HD and Apple -- Imperfect Together

Now that the Polk iSonic is on sale in Apple stores nationwide -- and soon to be available at Best Buy can we talk?

I mean this is as close as an HD radio is going to get to Apple coolness.

The Polk iSonic lets listeners buy the songs they hear on HD radio stations -- that is, if only there were HD radio stations and listeners to those HD stations.

If you want to hear loud laughing just describe the iSonic to a group of young people.

"You can now 1) buy an HD radio that has a 2) built in feature that allows users to tag whatever song they want. Then all you have to do is 3) sync your iPod and you get a chance to 4) buy the songs through the iTunes music store". Simple as one, two, three, four."

Okay, let me try this another way.

You're a big executive with access to investment capital.

I walk in and pitch you on a technology that involves a radio that no one owns (and that they aren't likely to start buying) which with burdensome technology to buy music off HD channels.

You ask me, "Are the big consolidators behind this"?

I say, "Of course --Clear Channel (you can't get any bigger than that), Cox, CBS, Cumulus -- all the consolidators that begin with a "C" and some that start with an "E" and a "G". How's that for impressive?"

You ask me, "Did you bring a spreadsheet on the sale of radios -- HD and analog -- over the past five years"?

I say, "I left it on the plane -- you know that American Airlines MD-80 that I had to get off of real quickly".

You ask me, "So how will these new iTunes tagging HD radios stack up with the sale of iPods"?

I say, "Exactly".

You then kick my butt out of your office and tell me never to return.

Why hasn't this happened already?

Why is HD news like the Second Coming?

By the way, I don't want to rain on your parade but most young people steal their music through bit torrent programs -- they don't buy. That's why the record industry is in so much trouble. Anyone listening?

And young people are evacuating from radio faster than the New Orleans residents did from Katrina.

HD is dead.

The issue should be dead because radio is going to be -- well, you get it.

Follow the logic:

1. Consolidators won't program HD channels with compelling programming.

2. Some cities barely have even a bad HD channel. They have no channels. (Maybe that's actually good).

3. HD radios aren't exactly flying off the shelves at Best Buy and Radio Shack.

4. HD tagging for later use with iTunes is a joke. No iTunes user is going to tag music on a radio they won't buy for a radio station that won't bother to program compelling sub-channels.

The HD issue keeps getting raised by the HD Alliance and iBiquity.

They are misleading radio people into thinking that under some scenario of persistence HD radio will eventually help the declining radio industry.

HD isn't going to attract the much-needed next generation -- they don't like the main channels on terrestrial radio. Hell, as each day goes on, they listen less to radio -- even casual listening.

HD radio isn't going to help with older listeners. They are relatively happy with what they grew up with -- there's plenty of choice for them on analog channels. And you'd be assuming these older listeners actually want choice.

Shut HD down. It's not helpful to radio folks who are trying to turn a giant industry around on a dime.

Don't run their free spots -- even at 3 in the morning.

Don't continue to embarrass your main channels by making local HD channels the dumpster of the broadcasting spectrum.

And don't kid yourself.

HD is a sham.

New media is the space where terrestrial radio must focus if it wants to compete in a changing media world.

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