HD Hypocrisy

The new Polk Audio I-Sonic and JBL receivers are much ado about nothing when it comes to advancing the relic known as HD radio (or for those who believe the term -- high definition!).

Last week when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his new line of products and left radio and Internet radio out in the cold, it was business as usual for radio advocates -- attacking the Apple and the iPod.

Then a day or so later when it became known that several of these devices including the Polk unit would have tagging capabilities for HD radio, the iPod was the greatest thing since top 40 radio.

Consider this -- and see if any young people (or old ones for that matter) are going to tag songs heard on HD radio.

1. The units have a tag button on them to hear songs on the FM dial.

2. The info is stored in the receiver and synced to your individual iPod.

3. You connect the iPod to your computer and iTunes software allows you to buy the songs and download them to the device you really value -- your iPod.

I don't know of any young people (the predominant iPod market) who would do this.

I don't know of any young people who want HD radio.

More and more of them don't even want terrestrial radio.

They want Internet radio on the fly.

Here's a few more reasons why only iBiquity and a few clueless radio group heads could make a big thing out of HD radio tagging:

1. The radio's cost a lot of money (Polk's unit is $499 in the Apple store -- betcha they'd rather have an iPhone and pocket the savings).

2. Skinflint radio operators will have to add a little new box to the HD medicine show they already run to allow these tagging buttons to be encoded. Lots of luck. No HD listeners and iBiquity is asking cost-conscious operators to throw good money after bad.

3. Clear Channel and some other big consolidators love it. Based on their track records, I'd check my pocket to see if I still have my wallet and consider myself warned. Want to feel that warm and fuzzy feeling? Listen to Clear Channel radio head John Hogan slobber all over HD tagging: "The iPod is not a competitor to radio -- it's a collaborator in connecting with consumers on a continual basis" (This is Jerry again -- WHAT! -- is Hogan nuts? The iPod is radio to the next generation). Okay, let's try Mark Mays for that good time feeling. Here's what Mays said (according to Inside Radio) after a face-to-face with Apple CEO Steve Jobs: "HD Digital Innovations such as this will continue to open up additional and new services for consumers and revenue opportunities for broadcasters". (Me again, I know Mark is smarter than this so I hope some PR flak wrote that!).

So, let me see if I get this right.

The iPod is now our friend.

Clear Channel is now a leader in tagging technology.

iBiquity finally has a reason to sell HD radio as the future (attached to an iPod).



The very damn radio stations that broadcast in HD offer no programming worth listening to. HD Radio is a virtual sewer of formats owners don't want on their terrestrial frequencies and other assorted garbage that no one sane would listen to -- let alone spend money for new radios -- tagging or not.

In other words, the broadcasters getting all hot and bothered about Steve Jobs' offering them a little button that's not even on an iPod shows you how pathetic this industry has become.

An industry that hasn't supported HD radio from day one.

Now wants consumers to pay for new radios before stations offer anything worth listening to.

Stop the insanity!

iBiquity -- the people who own the term HD Radio (they can have it along with "Edsel") -- according to Inside Radio expects more groups to sign on for tag technology by the NAB Convention next month.

I hope not.

Stop with the technology smoke-screen.

To hitch-hike on a phrase made famous by Clinton strategist James Carville: It's the programming, stupid!

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