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Vancouver’s The Peak is leaving traditional FM radio. Here’s what that means

What even is HD radio? And what will happen to 102.7 on the FM dial in Vancouver?
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The Peak radio station is switching to 102.7 HD2 starting July 25. Here's what HD radio is and the difference between HD and FM.

Vancouver's radio is getting tuned up.

Many Vancouverites have been left puzzled by local radio stations, especially when one of them kept playing the same song on repeat for 24 hours before switching to a new format. Then, out of the static emerged yet another new local radio station, The Wave. Now a third FM station in Vancouver is getting an upgrade, but it may seem complicated. 

The Peak on 102.7 will no longer be part of the traditional FM club. 

The radio station announced that on July 25 at 1:02 p.m. it will be switching over to 102.7 HD2. So what does that mean?

What is HD radio?

"HD Radio technology allows broadcasters to transmit a high-quality digital signal that piggybacks traditional AM and FM frequencies," explains Dave Delamere in a Crutchfield blog post

In simpler terms, HD radio takes out the static and other weird noises and leaves only the music, making FM radio sound almost as good as a CD; smooth and with no interruptions. This is because digital technology lets more information be transmitted via the same radio wave. But there's more to it than better sound.

If you've ever wondered what that catchy song playing on the radio is called, HD radio won't gate-keep or make you wait until the end to find out either. All the information, including the station ID, song and artist titles, as well as weather and traffic alerts will be displayed on the screen.

HD radio also lets radio stations multicast, or create "sub channels." This means that the same radio station can broadcast two or more programs at the same time, so listeners can easily switch between music, sports game or talk show while staying on the same station.

Will there be an empty spot?

Technically, yes. If you tune into 102.7 FM on the dial after 1:02 p.m. on July 25, you will no longer hear The Peak. The Pattison-owned station will reveal Monday morning what that new format will be, radio reps tell V.I.A.

Is this the next best thing?

Remember when CFox radio was off the air for the entire day because their transmitter was down? They had to keep the show going through streaming, which is pretty much what HD radio is. 

Plus, multicasting (which is only a HD radio feature) opens a new door for radio, one that The Peak has entered first.

"Moving away from traditional FM means we have more freedom with our playlist and can get away with stuff others can’t!" the station writes in a news release. 

Multicasting lets stations broadcast more niche "sub channels" that aren't music. The Peak already has some in mind, like The Early Show hosted by Charis and Jeremy as well as the live Peak Lounge.