NPR Labs to end run as stand-alone unit after losing consulting work

NPR will integrate NPR Labs into its general budget and tighten its focus on public radio after almost five years of running the division as self-sustaining. Under the restructuring, NPR Labs will transition from its status as a stand-alone unit and move from NPR’s distribution division to its technology and operations division. NPR Labs will also drop the Technology Research Center name that it used to market consulting work to clients. The restructuring eliminated the top job at NPR Labs, held by Rich Rarey, a 34-year NPR veteran. Rarey, who will leave July 31, took the job of director of NPR Labs in February when founding director Mike Starling took a voluntary buyout offer and retired.

More power for HD Radio, more buzz on analog

An extensive study by NPR Labs points to significant trade-offs between the audience reach of digital HD Radio and the amount of interference to analog FM. Even though its transmission power is just 1 percent of analog FM’s, its range for listeners in cars comes close to equaling analog,  the CPB-funded study found. But HD reaches areas including little more than one-third as many indoor listeners. To extend its range, the National Association of Broadcasters in January joined other industry groups advocating an optional power boost for HD Radio, permitting stations to emit digital signals at 10 percent of analog transmitters’ power. The FCC has not yet begun a proceeding to consider the change.