Thursday, October 4, 2007

Radio: HD Radio gets Bilk-o’ed

It’s unique for one to lead an industry when his only knowledge of it is whatever copy is put in front of him to read.

Welcome to the world of David Rehr, a.k.a. Fumbles, the chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, which purportedly represents the interests of the radio and television industry.

Fumbles, here’s the dilemma of the industry you’re paid the big bucks to represent.

How do you know where radio is going if you don’t know where it’s been and why?

I feel Fumbles needs to rework his Radio 2020 campaign?

Try this modification. Radio 20/20, as in “hindsight is always….” (Thank you, commentator TAlexander for that one)

Say “product development” to Fumbles and he’ll point his stubby finger at the ethically impaired Peter Ferrara, President and CEO of the HD Radio Alliance, henceforth known as Sgt. Bilk-o. (Thank you to commentators anonymous and lock stock barrel for nominating his nom de guerre).

HD Radio, the savior of the radio industry. Insert laugh track here.

Did you hear about Ibiquity’s and Sgt. Bilk-o’s latest setback? I’ve lost count. What’s this? The twelfth in a series?

Let’s talk Citadel. Last time I checked they’re the third largest radio group.

They had to yank the plug out of their AM HD Radio audio when, in their words, the “results were disappointing.”

Ibiquity responded with a statement: We understand Citadel’s caution and are working with them to understand what they are experiencing and to address their concerns.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

iBiquity insists there were only a few complaints about their HD Radio AM folly. Let’s listen in on their response, The vast majority of the feedback we’ve received on AM nighttime broadcasting has been positive.

Of course. If there’s no one listening there’s no one to complain.

How many months has it been and we’ve yet to see an independent audit on how many HD Radio units you’ve actually sold? The word is sold – as in someone paid money to buy one. Unsold inventory doesn’t count. Returns don't count. Demos don’t count. Trade doesn’t count.

Sgt. Bilk-o and other members of the HD Digital Radio Alliance apparently overlooked the downside to lying. You have to remember the lies you told and to whom.

Take that panel FCC’s audio division head Peter Doyle was on.

Ibiquity, the HD Digital Radio Alliance, and Fumbles bragged about the 1,500 radio stations they allege broadcast in HD.

One problem. The FCC has only 1,300 licenses filed for HD Radio stations.

That led Doyle to ask, “If you’re one of the 200, please let us know.”

He’s still waiting.

Bilk-o did surprise us and release a claim that about – key word – about 500 HD Radio receivers were sold on QVC in “just over” twenty minutes. No further information, like actual qualifying of those numbers, and curiously, why did Bilk-o wait a full week before releasing the alleged – key word – alleged figures?

I had mentioned earlier in the week that I received a half-dozen e-mail bulletins on the new relationship between Ford and HD Radio. Though the press release was written to make one believe that every Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury would be equipped with an HD Radio – the reality is that it’s just an option – and only one of many audio options Ford offers. Let’s see HD Radio or SYNC (which provides wireless Internet, which means access to thousands of Internet radio stations). How many say, “I’ll take the HD Radio instead of other options offered?

One? None?

What I didn’t know and thank commentator Day of the Jackal for pointing out: The only reason Ford is allowing HD Radio as a $280 + $50 installation fee, is that Ford owns Visteon which makes HD radios, and that Ford is an investor in iBiquity. Even Ford doesn't have much faith in HD Radio, as it is a second-class, point-of-sale, dealer-installed option.

Nothing is ever as it seems with the HD Radio Alliance.

Who told the most lies last week? Sgt. Bilk-o at the NAB or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN.

Though he’s a former senior VP at Clear Channel, you can’t call Sgt. Bilk-o a has-been. Never-was is closer to it.

What’s the definition of tune-out? Try Bilk-o’s latest HD Radio campaign. I particularly like the one that calls HD Radio “cool” for teenagers and has one speaking in Valley Girlesque. So 1982. Just when you can’t imagine the HD Radio campaign getting any worse….

There isn’t even any creative in their creative.

I know I’m repeating myself – but there was this NAB Convention last week where nothing was accomplished. Radio listening continues to decline; HD radio still isn’t selling – and now the threat of radio paying royalties to labels is becoming very real. We’ll save the latter for another time.

Repeat after me, Fumbles. You can’t create revenue if you don’t have product to sell.

Let me illustrate it in a way you, an ex-beer promoter, can understand it. Most radio station’s creative today, most of which is run from corporate offices, is comparable to an empty bottle of beer. It’s empty! Who’s going to buy an empty bottle of beer? There’s nothing in it. Get it?

Fish stink from the head and that’s where change has to take place if this industry has plans to sell radio as a product by, let’s say, 2010.

We’re turning the clock back to 1985 when a power struggle at Apple forced out Steve Jobs.

His replacement, John Sculley, a former Pepsi-Cola CEO, raised the price of the Macintosh by $500; shunned upgrades in favor of selling existing brands, and misused R&D by tossing money at projects with little to no commercial appeal.

While Sculley dismantled the culture and creativity of Apple, Jobs started NeXT, whose workstation helped Tim Berners-Lee develop the World Wide Web.

Since Jobs returned to Apple, among other things, he reinvented the way we access and listen to music. Then there’s Pod-casting. You get the point.

And, no, Fumbles, though you’ve been quoted as saying otherwise, Jobs has no plans to add an AM-FM HD receiver to junk up his iPod and iPhones.

Did you ever hear Steve Jobs speak? He’s the opposite of Fumbles and Bilk-o. Jobs has passion. Fumbles and Bilk-o don’t even know what the word means.

Jobs sells his product. Radio doesn’t have a product. You can’t generate revenue without product. Need I continue?

HD Radio’s generated absolutely nothing for anyone except for engineering headaches, spreading a thin staff thinner, and mostly half-assed automated formats. HD Radio is not going to save the industry.

Radio’s audience demands change on the stations they can access. They don’t need another dozen or so stations. They want something that’s not being given to them. Let me spell that out for you again, Fumbles: C-R-E-A-T-I-V-I-T-Y and C-O-N-T-E-N-T – and that’s with a liberal dash of passion and honesty.

You know the old saying - In business, usually, what is obvious usually turns out to be true.


Anonymous said...

Well, AM-HD is now imploding:

"ABC Citadel suspends AM IBOC"

"The order, effective immediately, is reportedly for all Citadel AMs running IBOC at night. While no reason was given for the order, it is believed that interference issues are the most likely factor."

Let's see iBiquity change the laws of physics. Hey, now I can start listening to AM radio again!

Anonymous said...

We were in trouble the day CCR president, J. Hogan, quiped, "...We're out of the busniess of tall towers and transmitters." That's the day the baby went out with the bath water.

B. Dornster

Todd Holler said...

It is bad enough when you try to pawn off an inferior product and make false claims about the programming available. It is worse when someone falls for the marketing message and buys one. My friend bought one and he hates it. In addition to its operation the side channels available to him are terrible. He was promised a variety of news, talk, music and sports programming. There is music and its not a tenth as good as what you can get on internet and satellite radio. Why put something so inferior on the market that the early adopters you want to spread the word have only negative comments about the product and the as you put it c-o-n-t-e-n-t available. Congress should investigate the NAB and the HD alliance for misleading the public on federally licensed frequencies.

Anonymous said...

iBiquity insists...

"The vast majority of the feedback we’ve received on AM nighttime broadcasting has been positive."

"Can't hear you any more at night"

"The complaints are starting to come in from people about not being able to hear the 50KW non directional clear I work for.. at night. They appear to be 40 to 100 miles from Xmiter. This is not good. We used to be heard in 37 states...Now we are lucky if it is 37 counties at night. Many of these locations are in the total survey area. Hope night..dies real soon!"

When will iBiquity's lies ever stop?

Edward Everett said...

"They owe us to listen" was the comment a former terrestrial radio CEO made in a mandatory meeting I attended almost ten years ago. That was the attitude that killed radio. Listening to radio was not mandatory then or now.

I hope creative talent and programmers can save radio. We haven't seen much of that breed in the past decade.

Go back to the time when you had a dozen or more different owners battling it out for ratings. It sure beats the complancy we have in radio today.

Go back to programming for the radio audience and not for Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

Geez Gore Man. Your such an a-hole. How can you pretend to love Radio, than spew your hate? Maybe you're right, XM and Sirius are the answer. Unless of course you have trees nearby.

PocketRadio said...

Angry said...

"Geez Gore Man. Your such an a-hole. How can you pretend to love Radio, than spew your hate? Maybe you're right, XM and Sirius are the answer. Unless of course you have trees nearby."

Back again, Angry?

Anonymous said...

When the HD radio scam comes crashing down I wonder who the scam artists will turn out to be.

There has to be more than meets the eye on this one.

My guess is that next year's NAB convention will be nothing like this one. It will resemble the aftermath of an apocolypse because that is where radio is headed.

Get it over with. The faster it crashes the sooner the pieces can be picked up by broadcaster professionals that know what they are doing and not slaves to the wall Street types.

Anonymous said...

Bilko was an empty suit at CC and he is still an empty suit for the HD radio alliance.

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