Car radio that displays extended information
April 7, 2004 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I was visiting a friend in NYC recently, and his car stereo displayed what was playing on the radio. It wasn't XM or anything like that. This was broadcast, showing the title, artist and call letters. How is this done, and where can I get a receiver that does this? Do all stations do this?
posted by quibx to Technology (13 answers total)
This is called Radio Data System. Some new receivers are coming with it, look for a mention of RDS. Only certain stations use it, some only use it to broadcast the call letters.
posted by ALongDecember at 1:10 PM on April 7, 2004

Is it brand new? I just noticed it on my father's radio last week, and a friend just mentioned yesterday that she just noticed it too.

How long before these things are just displaying ads?
posted by jpoulos at 1:18 PM on April 7, 2004

How long before these things are just displaying ads?

The song data is an ad.
posted by anathema at 1:24 PM on April 7, 2004

Learn more than you ever wanted to know about how RDS works here.

It's a British Invention, it's a lot like how Teletext in the UK has text info inside of the TV broadcast. Ideally it could hold the Time, Station, Alternative Frequencies, Traffic, Weather...
posted by ALongDecember at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2004

RDS has been on new vehicle audio systems for a few years now. Here in Detroit, I'd guess than fewer than half of the stations bother to transmit info for it (call letters or slogan, usually).

Someone already is experimenting with putting ads there, I saw a news story about it a few months back -- Viacom and/or Clear Channel. Seems unlikely to me with such a small display, but then I'm not an Ad Genius.
posted by pmurray63 at 1:36 PM on April 7, 2004

When I lived in Brussels for the first half of 2000, my car, an Opal Vectra, had this capability. It didn't do much for me since my French isn't very good.
posted by mmascolino at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2004

My car has it but only one station in Austin uses it and it is stuck on saying "brittney spears".

In LA there are ads on some of the stations. Mostly for auto insurance companies which is odd since the message slowly crawls across the display and so it isn't exacltly safe to take your eyes off the road.
posted by birdherder at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2004

I was shocked when I moved out here to Seattle (from Detroit, where there is a comparative abundance of RDS-equipped stations) and basically none of the stations had RDS. Only recently have they begun adding it here, in the land of high-tech.
posted by kindall at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2004

I had my first RDS-aware stereo in 2000, but even to this day only a couple stations in major metro areas even broadcast the extra info.

My favorite (and most frustrating) part of the RDS featureset is the ability to set the time on a radio remotely. This was killer because a few days after I got it and I hadn't figured out how to do this, it just started showing the correct time magically.

But every six months after the time change, I'd have to drive around searching desperately for a station that could set the time. This would usually take a couple weeks to happen. If I remember correctly, LA was the only city doing a lot of cool RDS station stuff, the bay area barely had support.
posted by mathowie at 3:07 PM on April 7, 2004

In the UK even pirate stations broadcast with RDS.
posted by deaddodo at 3:41 PM on April 7, 2004

Yeah, this has been going strong in the UK for years. I like turning on the 'traffic report' feature when I'm driving. It listens out for local radio stations that broadcast the 'traffic report' signal and then tunes over to that station for the duration of the traffic report, and then back to your original station when it's finished.

I've never seen ads on any UK stations, just the station name, although a few pirate stations around here broadcast changing messages along the lines of




which makes me feel kind of bling.
posted by chrismear at 4:08 PM on April 7, 2004

Is it brand new?

RDS is at least ten years old. I have a multi-band radio that old with RDS features. (I see on one web site they date it to at least 1986). I only use it to set the clock, although too many of the stations don't really keep their clocks all that precise.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:00 AM on April 8, 2004

In New York many of the FM music stations went to RDS last fall. I thought there may have been a regulation, although I now think it was just Infinity and/or Clear Channel upgrading its equipment.
posted by werty at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2004

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