URBANA – WILL has launched its digital radio service after several months of testing a new digital broadcast transmitter at its FM tower near Monticello.
The new FM 90.9 digital service provides three streams of content: FM 90.9 HD1, a simulcast of the FM music service; and FM 90.9 HD2 and HD3, which both carry the news and information service broadcast on AM 580.
"Now with digital, our news and information service is available 24 hours a day to people west of Champaign who can't hear the AM 580 signal, and to those in town who have had trouble receiving the signal at night when AM is at low power," WILL radio station manager Jay Pearce said in a news release.
Pearce said listeners can receive the new service on a digital radio by tuning to FM 90.9. After a brief delay, the radio will pull in the WILL-FM 90.9 HD1 signal. To listen to the AM service, dial the radio up to HD2.
Maureen Holtz of Monticello is a WILL listener for whom the digital signal has made a huge difference, according to WILL.
"I couldn't get WILL's AM signal at all when it was dark out," she said. "That meant in the winter, I couldn't get up early and hear about the weather and road conditions. With my digital radio, the sound is just wonderful, day and night."
Pearce said he has no way of knowing how many people own digital radios, but that WILL has already received comments from pleased listeners who were waiting for the digital service.
The digital radio installation was funded with a $75,000 federal grant, a major gift from Archer Daniels Midland Company and gifts from a number of Friends of WILL.
WILL AM-FM-TV-Online is the public media service of the College of Media at the University of Illinois. WILL-AM 580 offers local and regional news coverage as well as local talk shows, in-depth weather reports and agricultural news, and coverage from NPR and the BBC. WILL-FM 90.9 offers classical and other music.
WILL-TV blends a core of PBS programming with locally produced programs that focus on central Illinois. WILL Online at will.illinois.edu provides live streaming of the WILL-AM signal; program updates; downloads and archives of news stories and programs; weather; and the WILLKids site for families and teachers.