Finally, A Good Use for HD Radio

Utilizing HD Radio for additional revenue opportunities other than audio programming is more promising than traditional broadcasting applications.

Engineers have been busily at work on this functionality. Mobile tests were done by iBiquity in Chicago that proved no loss of service or dropped data.

This is good because HD Radio's chances of making it to prime time are slim to none -- and you know what they say about slim.

HD -- high definition, as they erroneously call it -- is too late to the party. The industry and a bevy of engineering companies fought the good fight to get what they wanted and by the time they did -- the audience didn't want it. And technology passed digital audio by.

The younger audience doesn't want a terrestrial radio signal. Give any young person a choice between an iPod or a radio and you know the verdict. Offer an iPhone and look out. Many young people are going to need their parents to come through with an iPhone for the holidays this year.

And, HD radio will not be under the tree.

HD radio is a virtual garbage dump for terrestrial programmers. There. I've said it.

When CBS dropped oldies for "Jack" on WCBS-FM in New York a few years back, a mere shadow of the former legendary station was relegated to online and HD broadcast. Now that "Jack" is off the 101.1 frequency, guess where "Jack" went. You've got it -- the garbage dump.

Numerous broadcasters who drop terrestrial analog formats that are still popular with a segment of the audience use the old HD maneuver to calm down the displaced listeners and in their fantasy -- keep them. But HD is virtual Siberia for a listener.

Few people even have HD sets.

And for those who can also listen online, keep in mind that they can't currently listen on a mobile device -- perhaps radio's chief advantage.

Thanks a lot!

Groups are not spending any real money on HD programming -- certainly nowhere near what they spend on a terrestrial signal -- yet somehow they expect listeners to buy these ugly, useless digital radios.

And, Listeners are expected to pay for new HD-capable radios.

Radio groups pay the fees to broadcast digitally and then invest virtually nothing in the programming that goes with the set.

Could HD have worked?


Maybe before Internet streaming began to take hold and even before satellite radio arrived. Satellite radio can't compete with terrestrial radio for numbers of listeners but it creams HD radio and probably will for a long time to come. At least both satellite companies went hog wild buying program content.

Could HD have been been an impact event?

Probably not as big as the move from AM to FM -- timing is everything.

That's why I was happy to hear that even the folks at iBiquity are looking at other options.

They have to.

HD as an programming medium is a turkey. Don't take my word for it -- listen around.

When Apple or other new age media companies announce a product, they invest in it. Radio does it on the cheap.

Microsoft's iPod imitation known as "Zune" is also a failure -- and they at least tried. They invested plenty in it.

And that's the other thing.

You can't come to the market with something consumers don't want. Consumers will always choose what they want not what you want to sell them.

An iPod or HD radio?

An iPhone or HD radio?

A TiVo or HD radio?

A laptop or HD radio?

A terrestrial radio or HD radio? (Sorry, I asked).

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