HD Radio Is Scaring Me

CNN Radio asked me to do an interview last week on their show "Digital Downbeat", a fast-moving, excellent show I had never heard of prior. Bob Struble, President, CEO and Chairman (all that) of iBiquity, the surviving and only HD technology company, represented the traditional radio side. You know who was asked to take it from the other side.

What transpired was spin-doctoring in the image of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

Struble was good. Real good.

He was also wrong. Dead wrong.

He led the audience to believe that HD radio was the hottest thing around. That HD was the future of radio. He also had a few Pinocchio moments where he said things were in place to get better for HD radio. Can any consulting adult really believe HD is the answer when there is next to no consumer interest in it?

Okay, maybe you can forgive this man for simply being a believer in what he does. He's probably a great guy when he's not hawking HD radio. But what is really scary is that the radio industry may be believing this pap.

The HD proponents believe that Wal-Mart's decision to sell affordable HD radios will do what bad programming on their sub-channels can't do -- sell more radios.

Does that make sense? No, not to me it doesn't.

They believe that HD radio actually sounds better and that people care about audio fidelity when it comes to their radios. Couldn't sell that to me when I see computer users listening on those lousy built-in speakers. Or on iPods. Fidelity is something young people think is what you do in committed relationships -- not their music. At least not right now.

And they represent the next generation. The people the radio industry now admits to letting get away.

HD proponents also believe that the specialty programming on the sub-channels will be an attraction when the radio industry is having a tough time just keeping their one main signal popular. Certainly, it's less popular with the younger generation. Research has been done that shows radio will take it on the chin in the years to come because of digital alternatives. That's, of course, if you need research to tell you that.

Yet, Struble drones on.

So hear him out. Hear me out. See if you don't get the feeling I got that the radio industry has its head up -- well, let's just say up in the clouds on this issue.

Here's the link to CNN's "Digital Downbeat" (it's a very interesting show, but if you're pressed for time advance to the very end for the HD part).