The HD Radio Lunatic Fringe

In the formative days of radio, preachers used to tell their flocks to put their hands on the radio before they asked them to put their hands in their wallets for donations.

In radio, nothing changes.

Now the forces that bring you “yesterday’s technology today” – HD Radio – are doing the same thing.

The new HD evangelists – who preach hell, fire and brimstone about the necessity of switching terrestrial radio stations from analog to digital are now apparently targeting the religious broadcasters who might be able to multicast to many audiences using HD’s ability to form subchannels.

The presumption here is that the religious leaders can get their flocks to buy HD radios. (As one of my readers said, “why do you think they call them flocks?”)

One operator quoted on Ibiquity's website as recently as yesterday says:

"HD multicasting is a pretty good deal because we can put up a second channel that a lot of our listeners have wanted, but we just couldn't justify until now because of the expense," comments Clair Miller, Vice President and General Manager of WFCJ 93.7 FM, a nonprofit station owned and operated by Miami Valley Christian Broadcasting Association in Dayton, Ohio.

There’s only one problem.

Okay, there are lots of problems, but here’s a big one.

Your listeners don’t have and probably won’t buy HD capable radios. Anyway, while they are shelling out the money for new radios, it’s presumably coming out of your donations.

I suspect radio’s eyes have always been bigger than its stomach.

One can only imagine how operators slobbered over the thought of splitting digital signals into several channels. In effect, something for nothing. But they eventually wound up snookering consumers into getting nothing for something.

What comes first the HD radio or the programming.

While the major radio operators are disco dancing their way through conference calls on Wall Street …

While they are blinded by the light coming through their rose colored glasses that things are actually getting better…

The HD lunatic fringe is out there trying to sell HD radio like a bottle of Doctor Good at Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show (apologies to Cher and Neil Diamond).

This isn’t funny any more.

The radio industry, deeply in denial, is deeply in trouble.

The proponents of HD radio have more of a chance of selling HD technology to a dying radio business than religious radio stations have of trying to get their listeners to buy HD radios.

No one buys HD radios – not even to gain admittance to heaven.

We hear about the lunatic fringe in politics – the religious right or the folks from

You don’t have to go that far to get political. Just look at the time, money and effort wasted to solve a radio problem that doesn’t need solving.

By next year at this time the radio industry will not only have lost the next generation (it started doing that ten years ago), but missed an opportunity to super serve the only listeners who are available – ethnic, Gen X and baby boomers.

So, it’s high time that radio got religion.

Put your hands on my blog, on your laptop or Blackberry and feel the presence of the Grim Reaper.

If you continue to sin (worship Wall Street instead of Main Street) and continue to worship false gods (HD radio proponents), you will lose your faithful (listeners) to Job – I mean – Jobs, Steve Jobs. Adam and Eve couldn’t resist an apple and neither will your listeners of future generations.

There is now an 11th Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Confuse HD Radio with Programming Content.

Programming content is radio’s only hope of gaining access to People Meter heaven.

HD audio and sub-channels alone are radio’s damnation.

One more thing.

Although radio may not get it yet, take comfort in the fact that consumers do. You don’t see them buying HD radios.

Do the math and then give your program directors a raise.

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