The much-publicized switch to digital television broadcasting takes effect in February 2009. Better TV pictures and expanded programming should be the result.

Will this change affect radio, directly, or indirectly?

John Dehnel, chief engineer for KSL and other Bonneville radio stations in Salt Lake City, said he doesn't see much impact.

He said cheap portable TV sets that often included AM/FM radios will obviously go by the wayside because they will no longer get a TV signal.

I suspect people with small TV sets in their garages, shops or motor homes will not retrofit them, and as a result, they'll be pushed aside. And, for those sports fans who used to watch a game on those little portable sets, they may simply switch to play-by-by-radio instead.

That might be one upside to digital TV — more popularity for small radio sets again

"No doubt someone will jump into the breech of TVs for motor homes, but I have not seen any yet," Dehnel stated. "They probably won't work as well as most DTV stations use UHF frequencies and require better antennas."

But Dehnel mentioned another twist to digital television that could affect radio.

"Some HDTV-TV stations may decide to put radio stations in their extra DTV bandwidth," he said, noting that the local area already has KUER-FM on KUEN (DT) Ch. 9-90 and "BYU Radio" on KBYU (DT) 11-3.

He said while these stations are co-owned, there is nothing in the rules that says TV stations cannot lease digital audio space to a radio station.

The result could be groups that would like a radio station but can't find an available frequency might be able to lease a digital channel from an HDTV station.

Dehnel said all the new HDTV receivers can already pick up these Dolby Digital Stereo sub-channels.

"Imagine how that could give even a small 1,000 watt AM station statewide coverage through the TV station's translator network. Beyond that, we might even see some independent "XM" type channels popping up," he said.

• As a side note to the digital converter boxes, needed for non-cable or satellite connected TV sets: Be aware that if you redeem the $40 coupons from the U.S. government (www.dtv2009.gov), you still have to pay the full sales tax on your total purchase price.

RADIO VETERAN DIES — Fred R. Brown, 74, a Utah radio host and icon in the Uintah Basin, died Nov. 29 from cancer. He had been part of Roosevelt's KNEU-AM/KIFX morning radio show with Earl Hawkins, which started in 1987 and became one of Utah's longest-running radio shows ever.

Fred's humor, common sense and love for country music were the hallmarks of his long radio career. He had also worked for Vernal's KVEL

RADIO HAPPENINGS — Want to meet Glenn Beck of syndicated radio and TV fame? He'll be at Deseret Book in Layton Hills Mall, Saturday, Dec. 6, noon-1 p.m., signing copies of his new Christmas book. He will also present his new "The Christmas Sweater" production that night in the E-Center.

• KSL recently cancelled the Sunday program "Relatively Speaking." There's no word on what will air in the 4-6 p.m. time slot.

• KBYU (FM-89.1) will air "Glad Tidings 2008: A Traditional Celebration of Christmas in Story, Verse and Song" on Dec. 14, 5 p.m., Dec. 16, 8 p.m., and Dec. 24, 1 p.m. Go to wwwclassical89.org for more details.

• Inside Radio recently reported that Jack Myers, a media consultant, has suggested that radio become the "Wal-Mart" of the media world by cutting prices on its 30-second ads and by making some low price multi-year deals with advertisers.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com