NPR Labs Releases Online Station Mapping Tool Providing Service Coverage for Public Broadcasting

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March 27, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – NPR Labs, the research and development arm of NPR Distribution, has launched a new interactive web-based mapping system that shows the reception coverage for all public radio and television stations in the United States. 

The Mapping And Population System (MAPS) tool replaces the “NOVA” (NPR Online Viewing Application) page at with new coverage projections for high-power digital radio, new mobile handheld coverage for public TV stations, as well as correlating coverage to detailed demographic information from the newly released 2010 U.S. Census.

The tool is designed to guide station-planning efforts to gauge and improve broadcast reception and develop new services including construction of new FM and television stations and translators. The tool’s terrain-sensitive maps will also provide valuable insight for development of HD Radio and mobile television. The broadcast mapping application also provides basic information on commercial broadcast entities, though it does not show mapping or demographic data for non-public stations.

The broadcast mapping application, which is available for use free of charge at, allows users to input the call letters for any public radio or television station and view the extent of that station’s broadcast coverage. It also provides the ability to see the range of analog and digital signals, and to overlay the two for purposes of comparison. The mapping tool also includes locations for transmitters and translators as well as population coverage predictions.

“NPR Labs has been long been involved with the issue of what effect adjusting digital power levels would have on stations, and this tool is a natural extension of that effort,” said Mike Starling, Executive Director of NPR Labs. “The demographic data is ideal for station planning on signal expansion and programming opportunities based on changing demographics.”

The tool features a field for users to input a station’s call letters, a specific address or city, or longitude/latitude data, and users can select tabs to show area demographics, radio broadcast reach, fixed television reach and mobile television reach. Users can then overlay these maps to compare, for example, analog and HD Radio at their original power levels as well as at higher power levels. Stations can also use the tool to identify geographical areas that are under- or over-served by other broadcast entities.

“NPR Labs has been at the forefront of exploring and improving the technology that drives public broadcasting across the country,” said NPR Distribution Vice President Pete Loewenstein. “This mapping tool will be an extraordinarily useful tool for station managers looking to bolster their on-air broadcasts and better serve public radio’s continuously increasing audience.”

The new NPR Labs Public Radio-TV mapping tool was funded by a grant from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

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About NPR Labs

NPR Labs’ mission is to identify, evaluate, and advance the application of innovative technologies in support of the public service mission of NPR and our member stations. Located in Washington, DC, at NPR headquarters, the Lab works daily on technical research projects supporting the interests of public radio stations across the country.

About NPR

NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 880 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.


Posted March 27, 2012