Business 2.0 :: Terrestrial radio is under assault. The attacks are coming from all sides — satellite radio, iPods, subscription music services, broadband radio, and podcasting. Given all that, the $20 billion a year radio industry has to reinvent itself. Fast.
So what’s a radio executive to do? Industry insiders are excited about high-definition radio, which marries analog and digital signals and sends out a hybrid data stream. HD radios then decode the two types of signal and play them back as separate channels. more
7 thoughts on “Can HD Rescue Radio?”
Radio isn’t dying because its programming isn’t sufficiently focused into musical niches; it’s failing because the product is irrelevant and unlistenable. Short playlists, especially in formats playing music from earlier decades, burn out classic tunes and ignore much of what the audience wants to hear. If they want an audience to listen to music-oriented programming, they need to relearn how to present it. Fortunately, some are trying.
Radio was supposed to be local. The technology–and the policy–initially demanded a local element to radio that is endangered now. If HD radio, with its niche formats, becomes the functional equipment of a juke box or iPod, what will differentiate it from satellite (or an iPod, for that matter)? If local stations pipe in nationally syndicated shows, what’s the difference? The only content that is truly local on far too many stations is the advertising. If that’s all they can do, then we won’t lose much by having them replaced by the satellite companies.
The ugly truth is: HD radio doesn’t sound very good. The receivers are insanely expensive (Kenwood sells a $400 add on tuner to a $400 head unit. So $800 to get HD radio in your car.)
Ibiquity is so worried about making money off licensing the technology it’s been developing over the last 10 years that HD radio will probably end up being priced out of the market.
And given all the adjacent channel interference we’re starting to see from stations switching on their HD radio, it make be yet another nail in the coffin of traditional over the air radio!
If radio were still local, HD radio might work. The problem is that one company (Clear Channel) controls too many stations, and that company has claimed more than once that they are only in business to sell ads. They don’t care at all about local programming.
So all HD radio is going to do is give us 8 versions of the same crap on one frequency. Yeah, that’ll work.
Plus, it’s been established that most listeners don’t care that much about sound quality, because they’re buying iPods and encoding their music at 128 Kbps, so even if HD radio has better quality audio, it’s practically irrelevant.
The only thing that’s going to “save” radio is a fundamental shift toward local ownership of all stations. I’m not holding my breath…
HD is an abominal idea, it obliterates adjacent stations and will knock half the stations off the air at night for this reason even if they can afford the high price of conversion. ALL receivers now in existence will be obsolete if analog radio is shut off as they eventually plan on doing. It will severely limit the usable disance radio now can reach especially at night. Ibiquity says we have no right to listen to stations outside of our own market (who’s reception IBOC will ruin), what kind of self-serving arrogance is this? The ONLY way this overeaching scheme will work is if the FCC mandates that only HD receivers are sold and stations ONLY transmit in IBOC as they are doing now with television. Why does the FCC allow big corporations to dictate to the american consumer? The cure is going to be a lot worse than the disease and americans are just going to ignore IBOC as they did AM stereo but with AM stereo consumers could keep and listen to the same receivers, with IBOC if they shut off the analog signal as proposed AM radio will die, people are not going to spend $400.00 and up just for a new “savior” of AM radio.
The real problem of AM radio is the fact that big corporations now own most of the stations and have made it so boring with their bland programing that it is a drone in the background 90% of the time.