Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Radio: The U.K.'s Digital death notice


HD Radio Alliance head Peter “Sgt. Bilk-o” Ferrara came out of hiding this week to fallaciously proclaim that HD radio-only stations – those that you can hear only on an HD Radio receiver - are writing business and making money. He named two stations – Clear Channel’s Z-100/New York and Emmis’ KSHE/St. Louis as examples.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Bilk-o, prove to me that money exchanged hands from client to Z-100 and KSHE – exclusively for buying time on their HD side channels.

You can’t.

These are strictly value-added bonus spots.

Right? Right.

They’re not even spots. They’re similar to public radio underwriting announcements – except unlike public radio, which receives money from them, radio’s not seeing one cent of additional revenue. The stations pitched their clients the opportunity to take part in a new experiment – at no cost or obligation.

Right? Right.

Shall we read between the lines?

KSHE admits that the “announcements” on its KSHE2-Klassic HD channel are from two clients that have “long-term relationships” with the terrestrial station: Doc’s Harley Davidson and Cetero Medical Research. Each’ll get one 20-second top-of-the-hour announcement – rotating twelve times a day for the next year.

Z-100, on the other hand, gave away the store - running four ten-second announcements per hour for Verizon. That adds up to 96 Verizon announcements per day.

One of the new lines being used to hype the alleged value of HD Radio is that it could bring in local advertisers that don’t have the budget to buy traditional radio. At the prices I’m being quoted these days to advertise on terrestrial radio – HD Radio’s rates must be targeting shoe-shine boys and lemonade stands.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Go ahead. Show me what I made up.

Poor Bilk-o. He has a tough job trying to remember which lie he told and to whom.

It gets better.

The research company SNL Kagan claims that HD Radio revenues will reach $1 billion by 2011. That’s a whole lotta shoe-shine boys and lemonade stands.

Researcher and RAIN editor Kurt Hanson did the math. His figures, which were based on a blue sky assumption – and the improbability of an installed base of 4 million HD Radios in the U.S. – had its best-case scenario revenues at $55 million – not the $1 billion Kagan claims.

Memo to Kagan: I’d check the chip on that calculator that Bilk-o gave you.

Either that or stop fitting your research results to what’s in Bilk-o’s brain.

Reality check: HD Radio isn’t going to bill anything – period.

Bilk-o, you neglected to provide updates on what’s the latest news from other countries where digital radio has been marketed.
*
What we call HD Radio in the states is known as DAB – Digital Audio Broadcast – overseas.
*
Ever hear of GCap, Bilk-o?

Of course you have. You just don’t like to talk about them.

In 2005, GCap became the largest radio company in the United Kingdom – the outcome of a merger between GWR Group and Capital Radio.

GCap’s pulling the plug on two more of its digital stations, Planet Rock and the Jazz. This adds to the three other digital channels they’d already silenced.

The only GCap digital-broadcast stations remaining are those simulcating their terrestrial stations, which include hit radio CapitalFM, classical Classic FM, alternative XFM, and Hip-Hop/R&B Choice FM.

GCap says that digital radio is not economically viable. They’re also selling its piece of Digital One, a national broadcasting platform for digital stations. They just want o-u-t.

Digital radio listening accounts for nine percent of total radio listening in the U.K. – but digital-only stations make up less than four and a half percent of total listening.

Bilk-o, if you had one tenth of one percent with HD Radio in the states you’d call it an overwhelming success.

GCap's CEO Fru Hazlitt told the BBC that it sees better prospects in FM and Internet radio – and that digital radio was too expensive and wasn’t embraced by consumers the way the company had anticipated.

Richard Wheatley, the CEO of Local Radio, which owns 28 stations in the UK, said digital radio did not have any killer application and that his listeners were moving to the Internet for their alternate radio use.

Anyone with a computer already has everything they need to listen to thousands of radio stations worldwide.

How do you compete with that, Sgt. Bilk-o?

Between 1999 and early 2001 when I was an owner of the Internet radio and TV portal Radio Crow (and most U.S. Internet connections were 28.8 dial-up), we promoted DAB to our U.K. users – and carried streaming audio of the DAB-only stations.

Unlike HD Radio in this country, where most side-channels are on automatic pilot – the U.K. digital channels were, for the most part, well crafted and programmed. Even then, the feedback we were getting from our U.K. users was: why buy a DAB receiver when one could get the same channels on the Internet for free?

Free.

It’s been said that giving up nicotine is harder than heroin. I think it’s even harder for Bilk-o and his layabout friends at the HD Radio Alliance and the NAB to give up lying.

Leaders are those who jump in front of crowds that are already moving.

Bilk-o, you’re not one of those.

57 comments:

PocketRadio said...

Ramsey's take on this:

"HD Radio milepost is actually an Internet Radio milepost"

http://www.hear2.com/2008/03/an-hd-radio-mil.html

Yea, the HD channels are so popular that CC has shut a number of Format Lab streams down, due to lack of interest:

"CLEAR CHANNEL PULLS THE PLUG ON SOME HD RADIO STATIONS"

"After conducting a survey of 340 HD2 stations to determine their programming needs, the folks at Clear Channel have dumped a number of their HD 'Format Lab' stations due to a lack of demand."

http://talentfilter.blogspot.com/2008/02/clear-channel-pulls-plug-on-some-hd.html

Who's feeding this monster - Struble must be lying his ass off to investors, but the investors aren't commenting:

"IBiquity sees digital radio signaling changes to come"

"The company has yet to turn a profit and does not expect to do so in 2007 or 2008, Struble said... Mass marketing and consumer adoption is the last hurdle, Struble said... Representatives of investment firms that have spots on iBiquity's board of directors could not be reached for comment, but Struble said they are excited about the progress the company is making. The focus is not on exit strategies yet, he said."

http://tinyurl.com/3don5y

Scam of the century!

PocketRadio said...

Oh, and we can't forget about the digital radio failures in Canada, Australia, Germany, and DRM for shortwave:

http://hdradiofarce.blogspot.com/2007/12/digital-radio-struggling-to-be-heard.html

Anonymous said...

The U.K. doesn't even have Satellite Radio as a distraction to digital terrestrial radio.

Anonymous said...

John, you left something else out. HD Radio does not work. The signal cuts in and out on all of the HD-2 channels and on some stations the sound is shrill and fatiguing.

DAB in Europe is slightly better but not by much.

Listening to radio on the Internet is the future, not HD.

Anonymous said...

Are the HD radio alliance jokers for real? Why would i spend even $100 on a radio to hear a handful of nothing stations when I can get stations from everywhere in the world on the internet? The 'internet only' stations on line are even better than the terrestrial ones. You are right about DAB stations. I followed the link and listened to a few of them on line. At least in England they got it right as far as putting decent formats on their digital only stations. U.S. radio couldn't even do that one right.

internetradioman said...

I knew you were "the buzzard" guy. I did not know you were "radio crow" too. I used to go to your site to hear european internet stations which are superior in programming to most u.s. stations today. Why did you close Radio Crow. I heard you had a disagreement with investors and sold it to them? Thanks to Radio Crow to this day I listen to mostly internet radio at home and at work and I have it set up to broadcast throughout my home and backyard. It freaks visitors when we are listening to a British station while barbequing in the backyard. I did listen to some of those DAB stations on line. Planet Rock was better than most classic rock stations on u.s. radio today.

patta said...

the uk gave it almost a decade & dab didnt work. what makes peter farrara/bilko believe hd could have even the most remote chance of success here. the uk put time & effort into developing stations exclusive to dab & they still were unsuccessful. in the u.s. the same companies that destroyed terrestrial are putting thrown together automated hd - 2 stations on line that have little chance of ever attracting an audience. that is if you can even pick them up. i will stick with internet radio. i listen at work daily.

Kingfish Stevens said...

I am mostly an internet radio listener now and when I am not listening to that I listen to Sirius or XM, or if I do listen to FM it is NPR. HD radio is too late and too lame. I can hear Kid Leo and Little Steven on Sirius with new and rarely heard music, why would I ever listen to anything programmed by CC or Cumulus or CBS. They are why I quit listening to radio in the first place. Once I have had bad food at a resturant I never return. Garbage in = Grabage out.

AE world said...

I don't know who the HD Digital Raido Alliance is trying to fool. We are trying to fill our own inventory. What sales person is going to sell spots a dollar a holler. Actually the way things are going that may be our terrestrial rate.

It may be time to get out of this business.

Anonymous said...

Promotions, bonus spots, remotes - it's never enough. Is there anyone dumb enough to believe that these clients on WHTZ/KSHE HD-2 channels actually BOUGHT TIME?

Give us a break.

Rocket said...

Maybe this is nothing. I clicked on Ferrara's bio and saw that the HD radio alliance is located in San Antonio. The same city as Clear Channel. How much has one invested in the other I wonder?

Does Clear Channel or a Mays family company own a piece of our Ibiquity?

Just wonderin'.

I SPY said...

The address of Clear Channel is:

200 East Basse Road
San Antonio, TX 78209

The address of the HD Radio Digital Alliance is:

200 East Basse Road
San Antonio, TX 78209

What a tangled web we weave. Are we to believe that Bilko is just "renting" space from Clear Channel?

Don said...

Why the vile and hatred towards HD Radio? I live in Detroit, I have one, and I thoroughly enjoy the digital sound on my high-end audio equipment and its presence during my 45 minute commutes.

Some have said that the side channels lack originality and creativity, and I agree with that. I feel lucky that in Detroit, the Greater Media owned WRIF has Riff2 on the side channel which is local, unique, and different. Nobody plays The Hives or Electric 6 and then follows with classic P.E. or Iggy Pop. Riff2 does. Further, WDVD's former format, The Planet, lives again on its side channel and it is my 2nd most listened to station in the entire market.

Maybe I'm pipe dreaming, but if and when these huge radio companies start to explode, new owners will emerge and radio lovers will get the keys to these HD side channels and we'll see some cool, heady things.

I'm just saying HD radio and side channels have *SOME* merit.

Manny said...

Don,

You have a unique situation in Detroit. The reason you have better than average HD - 2 channels is because the HD Radio Alliance is pumping Detroit automakers to include HD-2 radios as an option like they do XM, Sirius or Sync. Jacobs Media which is located in Southfield and consults Greater Media (WRIF, WCSX) is also a consultant to the HD Radio Alliance which is why that outfit is so pro-HD radio with their clients.

This is also why the HD Radio Alliance through Jacobs Media do occasional HD Radio promotions around metro Detroit.

If you go to this site http://www.hdradio.com/find_an_hd_digital_radio_station.php you will have access to all of the HD radio stations on the air. Of course the HD Radio Alliance neglected to include links to the stations so you will have to do the two-step process of writing the stations down or printing them out and then checking them on line. What you will find is mostly garbage. You will hear the same identical stations in market after market.

Detroit is a unique case. If other markets did localized HD-2 stations it would draw more interest.

I listened to the audio streams of the Detroit stations and yes I was impressed especially when compared to most markets.

The radio industry would have been better off to concentrate on saving their terrestrial stations than spending all that money on new equipment and studios for HD radio.

Gerry said...

I have been monitoring DAB stations for years on the Internet. They have some good stations and formats but I would never invest in a DAB radio to get them. Their stream on the internet serves me well. If you want to listen to the DAB channels go here - http://www.radio-now.co.uk/london.htm.

We are only a brief time away from the ability to access internet signals everywhere.

U.K. DAB has better variety than XM or Sirius in the states.

The internet also allows us to listen to thousands of global stations too.

The problem with stateside "HD" DAB is the lack of variety and automation.

Visit that DAB site and you will like what you hear.

Gerry

PocketRadio said...

Don said...

"Why the vile and hatred towards HD Radio? I live in Detroit, I have one, and I thoroughly enjoy the digital sound on my high-end audio equipment and its presence during my 45 minute commutes."

Why not - HD/IBOC doesn't work, is jamming our airways, and is a farce:

http://hdradiofarce.blogspot.com/

Mo threads said...

Thank you for an unusual solution.

I run a small clothing store catering to upscale fashionable women.

I am also a radio fan and enjoy John Gorman's blog.

Just out of curiosity I checked that London Radio site that one of the commentors suggested.

In doing so I found a station called The Chill whose music selection and style is perfect for my store.

So thank you, Gerry and thank you John.

Don said...

manny,

You make an excellent point. And I guess the point of this blog entry is not really about what I brought up. It's mainly railing against the huge corporations that actually impede similar, quality, local, original content that might be born of HD side channels.

I think of cable, of course, and the countless hours of American Idol extended programming on Real or FX (and I'm not actually sure what channels my kids are watching, but BOY do they eat up everything Idol related). 5 long hours each week doesn't seem to be enough ...they need 5 to 10 add'l hours every weekend to satisfy their Idol cravings, not to mention the concerts and all the CDs from winner and losers alike.

I've often wondered why someone doesn't launch an Idol side channel? Certainly the most watched show on TV lends itself to a dedicated radio station? Right? Let Fox, FX, or TV Guide channel run it, even.

So many out-of-work legends and long deceased formats could return. Or my format ...call letters WRST-FM2 ...slogan ..."The WoRST Radio Station" and it'd be filled with novelty tracks, deeps tracks, and classic radio stunts and legends.

Stuff like that would kickstart HD.

Bottom line: I hope I get to keep my superior audio quality and the few unique, clever side channels I have.

Fact guy said...

Gorman, what are you going to when HD Radio becomes the standard in America. It is only a matter of time before the FCC orders all analog stations to move to digital frequencies. The smart ones are there already. Those holding out will pay a premium to go digital.

It is inevitable that radio in America will be digital. Why not admit that instead of fighting the fight best suited for a dinosaur.

I take it back. You are a dinosaur. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Hey Fact Guy, I think you’re right. It’s a matter of time before the FCC and our bumbling congress forces all stations to turn off their analog frequencies and go 100% digital. It’s only a matter of time. It sounds crazy because it’s probably true! Or Fact Guy, maybe radio is a dying industry. Maybe by 2020 radio as we know it will be irrelevant and replaced by other technologies. Like cassette, 8 track tape or 45’s have become. To be honest radio is becoming irrelevant now. Maybe all radio stations will broadcast from a satellite like XM.. One thing is certain, CHANGE is coming to radio. FM jukeboxes cannot compete with the technologies we have today, never mind the future. I personally think once cheap wireless internet become available everywhere radio is done. Once cheap wireless internet finds cars.. it’s over for radio. Fact Guy, I’d bet on content not towers or frequencies. The time for HD was 10 years ago.. HD feels like Am stereo.. sure it sounded great but nobody cared enough to go out and buy receivers. Static and Am stereo.. what were they thinking? Hear the same thing on HD that you can hear on analog radio.. what are these guys thinking? oh they’re not…there just brain dead.

Don said...

Anonymous,
You seem quite angry and quite ignorant.

"Radio is a dying industry."

When its total weekly Reach dips below 85%, let's talk. Terrestrial radio still reaches 90%+ of the entire country each week.

"Maybe all radio stations will broadcast from a satellite like XM"

Then it won't be 'broadcast' now, will it? Certainly this could happen and at that point it would only help terrestrial radio because I could get my favorite local stations everywhere, which is all I hear about the benefit of satellite radio. If broadcast never existed and was invented today, I promise you every advertiser would be falling all over themselves trying to find a way to get onto a medium that is free and reaches 90% of the country.

"One thing is certain, CHANGE is coming to radio."

Thanks. Was that on your quote-of-the-day calendar? Change is a constant.

"Once cheap wireless internet finds cars.. it’s over for radio."

Actually, it will be 'over' for internet radio because they suddenly have zero advantage because the terrestrial stations also stream.

There's a reason in a city with 30 radio signals that you have 2 to 3 urbans, countries, ACs, CHRs, Rockers and 3-6 AM talkers - because THAT is what 90% of the people still want. If I gave you a tower of your very own, today, and you wanted to make money, what would you program? Would you research the marketplace and try and determine which collection of songs would best capture the biggest audience, or would you program Gospel-Punk, because you KNOW that'll catch on? Satellite radio hasn't and won't replace terrestrial radio because it costs money and at the end of the day, hearing 2 extra songs in an hour isn't worth it.

Radio experts are like politicians for the most part ...completely out of touch with the common man. The common man wants to hear AC/DC, Carrie Underwood, or Chris Brown 10 times a day. Program a station who's playlist is all Wilco, Feist, and Arctic Monkeys ...well ...I hope you have some nice family members who promise to listen, becuase your station will suck.

We do agree on one thing ...HD will thrive when its content is compelling. It shouldn't strive to sound like or feel like the small time internet stations or satellite channels, but rather should strive to be more local and superserve a niche.

I personlly hope this blog is around in 2020 so I can see the next coolest, greatest thing that's going to kill radio.

Music Bizzz said...

To Don. You may not be familiar with John Gorman who writes this blog. In the 1970s and 1980s he oversaw WMMS a station that was probably one of the all time greatest rock stations in America. It earned its reputation because it went against the grain. While other AOR stations were playing the typical Lee Abrams and Jeff Polalck 300 album tracks over and over WMMS was playing a much wider variety of rock. I worked records at the time and at first I thought the station would bomb. They were playing the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, the New York Dolls, Roxy Music, mixed with the AOR staples and rock and r&b CHR hits from the sixties. Gorman was a guy who came off like he was just having fun but as you got to know him he was very calculating and he had great respect and trust of his staff. They had incredible promotion and it was more like a sports team than a radio station. They had a mascot, they sold merchandise, gave away bumper stickers. It was a very street-wise station from the programming to the marketing. Dan Garfinkle and Jim Marcheyson were the promotion directors. Everyone on that station "broke" acts. Each jock had their favorite music but they also played everyone elses. He turned his jocks into rock stars: Denny Sanders, BLF Bash, Matt the Cat, Jeff & Flash, Kid Leo, and Betty Korvan were the core jocks. To this day I can remember every jock, every airshift like it was yesterday. It was the best rock station I ever heard anywhere and when I was doing national promotion I got to hear what everyone else called the legends like WNEW-FM, WBCN, WMMR, KMET, KROQ, WLUP. They were exceptional but nothing compared to WMMS. WMMS was the first station I ever heard play the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Devo, the Ramones, the Talking Heads and Blondie, too. They did that and still played Journey and Pat Benatar too. It also lasted for 12-13 years and died only when there was a management change. You should read Gorman's book. He will convince you that passion and a love of whatever it is you are doing will lead to success. He also makes it clear that WMMS would have never happened if his company was paying attention to what he was doing in the early days because it would have made no sense to them. So when you talk about your Arctic Monkeys, Wilcos and Feists remember what WMMS did. If the right team were assembled and done in the WMMS style I guarantee you that a station playing that music would be a huge success. The only reason it will not happen is because you have a dozen companies running everything and those running the companies don't know squat.

Don said...

Music Bizz,
Thanks. I've read his book ...got it for Christmas. I loved it. And, unfortunately for me, I *love* radio. At 34, nobody recommends I stay in this biz, but I'm not leaving. I firmly believe radio isn't going anywhere. It may change, but it won't go away.
I enjoy this blog and probably got a little too uppity, yesterday, but I was just taken aback by the rage towards HD radio, which I think is an awesomely cool technology. Then I went on a tangent.
Happy Thursday!

ian tacey said...

what is it that the radio industry doesn't understand about hd radio. it was a foolhardy venture. the only smart stations are the ones that refused to participate in this disaster. when the devaluation arrives those that made the expensive switch to hd will find their stations worth even less. do you think they will be manufacturing hd radio five, even three years from now? peter ferrara is the cheerleader for the betamax of radio. my brother is manager of a high end electronics store. they sell macintosh, b & o, etc. his store has never, ever sold a single hd radio nor has he ever had any iquiries about hd radio. after being asked about stand alone internet radios he ordered six from the u.k. and they sold out in a month even with a hefty mark up. radio stations participating in this venture should know that he has never been called on by any representative of hd radio. he gets called on by have had salespeople from local stations and they never mention hd radio. when he asked one about it the salesperson said she was aware they did something but didn't know what. that is the problem with hd radio. in addition to being a poor product even those representing radio stations broadcasting in hd know nothing about it.

Anonymous said...

I think we can all agree that HD Radio is not long for this world. Best case scenario, it becomes a bridge between standard broadcast and the day when all radio is delivered over IP. But it definitely has a short lifespan. Can it work out the technical kinks and develop a following before it’s obsolete? I doubt it.

More likely, I think, most people will just wait for mobile internet access and never bother to invest what’s required for HD Radio and it just goes away. I suspect satellite will face the same fate.

At that point, broadcast companies will have a level playing field to compete with anyone else looking to aggregate an audience. What will the future look like?

Try this on for size. Programming and content will be carried out on the micro level. What gets broadcast will be decided by the guy at home in his studio who’s set up to stream via the web. He’ll either aggregate an audience or he’ll fail. He’ll sign on with an ad network and agree to carry ads for a share of the money, plus sell his own inventory when he can. It’s exactly what’s happening to blogs and it will happen to radio.

HD Radio, Sat radio, Broadcast? All dead by 2020. And it’s sad, too, because broadcast once did more than just entertain. It created community and actually educated people about what news was important by hiring informed people to make news decisions for them. Today, of course, few people believe they need education. And broadcasters have abdicated their civic responsibility by hiring strictly the lowest priced available talent and simulcasting garbage.

I find it all a bit ominous for our future as a free and informed country. Without trusted sources of information, superstition and rumor will flourish. It’s been that way throughout history.

Interesting that we all debate the details of HD Radio and Clear Channel’s acquisition price, but rarely contemplate what’s actually at stake here. Then again, maybe that debate took place years ago when radio was allowed to consolidate and it started down this road.

Anonymous said...

Don, the amount of people listening to radio weekly is trending down. It’s trending down slowly. Radio employment has sharply declined! Advertisers want accountability. An intangible radio ad schedule won’t due. Have you heard of point and click?

As a kid growing up in the 70’s I loved radio. And the personalities were allowed to bring their personality to work and on air too. There was a time when you could what city you were in by simply listening to a radio station. To be frank I find most radio today boring and stale. With the exception of a rare few, stations mostly sound the same.
The morning buzz, the waking crew Valerie and Bud or whatever it all sounds the same. As a kid I didn’t have and ipod, computer or internet and I couldn’t even imagine
what an ipod would be. Children by the age of five, radio’s future are already tapping the key board and by the age of 8, they’re downloading music from the web to their ipod.
They want to hear what they want, when they want it. And some day we’ll be downloading music from a wireless connection right to our automobile.

I hate to say this, but with wireless internet a two way connection and an advanced digital radio, listeners will be able to program the music they like and want to hear. Much like the services, currently offered by Pandora.com or Slacker.com. Don more radio jobs will be lost. The HD radio you love might come back to bite you in way’s you’ve never thought of.

Radio must go back to it’s roots.. Serve it’s communities and bring personalities back to radio. What’s missing is creativity, personality heart and sole. And radio isn’t grooming it’s future stars. If anything it’s doing the exact opposite and killing guys like you off!

"It is what it is"

Thomas Cottdle said...

John I heard you speak a few years back on Internet radio saving local radio. It was an interesting theory and one I agreed with but I have forgotten your set up. It had to do with a combination of wi-fi availability, local content and unique methods to monetize it. You also stated that it would be a boon to social networking. Is there an opportunity when you could revist this as a subject of one of your future blogs? I would also like to know if you are still active with your media consultancy. I have a few suggestions on independent stations you could help.

Anonymous said...

Reading this blog is like listening to Rush Limbaugh rail about the Clintons. The same few themes, re-written over and over. You want to mobilize the base? Just bring up HD radio.

The truth is that it took 30 years for FM to catch on. Major owners of FM stations were giving frequencies away, donating them to universities, as the Washington Post did with WHUR. They were losers, unable to attract audiences or sell advertising. Their signals were weak and spotty. Their programming was terrible. The only radios that had FM were high end hifis costing hundreds of dollars.

Then all of a sudden in 1967, the long standing lawsuit between the Armstrongs and RCA ended, the FM chip became cheap, the FCC got behind it, and FM was added to all radios, including the $20 portables. Once that happened, and some risk-taking programmers got involved, the FM boom began.

Consider this: Let's say some radio owners donate one of their HD signals to women, minorities, or community groups to program. The FCC realizes this is a way for them to achieve their diversity initiative without licensing new stations. The HD frequencies are better than LPFM. That could be enough for them to require manufacturers to include the chip in all radios. When that happens, it will be boom time once again. And all the ranters will move on to their next subject.

Bill Henkell said...

"The truth is that it took 30 years for FM to catch on. Major owners of FM stations were giving frequencies away, donating them to universities, as the Washington Post did with WHUR".

Until 1966 when the radio industry was forced by the FCC to provide separate programming for FM stations, most just simulcasted their AM.

Group W - Westinghouse - actually sold off their FMs rather than put money into developing original programming. Years later when they realized the mistake they made they bought Legacy Broadcasting's FMs for top dollar to match with their AMs. It had nothing to do with the Armstrong suit. That is a separate story unreleated to this.

"They were losers, unable to attract audiences or sell advertising. Their signals were weak and spotty. Their programming was terrible. The only radios that had FM were high end hifis costing hundreds of dollars."

It was not until 1976 ten years after the FCC ordered the AM-FM separate programming that Congress legislated that radios had to include both AM and FM. IT had nothing to do with the Armstrong suit.

"Consider this: Let's say some radio owners donate one of their HD signals to women, minorities, or community groups to program. The FCC realizes this is a way for them to achieve their diversity initiative without licensing new stations. The HD frequencies are better than LPFM. That could be enough for them to require manufacturers to include the chip in all radios. When that happens, it will be boom time once again. And all the ranters will move on to their next subject."

The problem with your argument is that there are too many radio stations not too few. There is no market for HD radio at a time when everything is merging into the internet.

HD radio no matter how you try to justify it is a dead issue.

Anonymous said...

"IT had nothing to do with the Armstrong suit."

The end of the Armstrong suit meant that FM could be added to AM radios for a few bucks more. Can you imagine if HD was only a few dollars more than an AM/FM radio, rather than the current situation?

"The problem with your argument is that there are too many radio stations not too few."

Depends on who you ask. I'd agree there are too many radio stations mainly doing mainstream programming. But for the smaller genre fans, there aren't enough radio stations to match the choices available in satellite or on the internet. In order to compete against those systems, FM needs more stations.

"HD radio no matter how you try to justify it is a dead issue."

I don't think it's been given a fair chance. Especially by the CC haters like Gorman.

bobyoung said...

Don said:

"I enjoy this blog and probably got a little too uppity, yesterday, but I was just taken aback by the rage towards HD radio, which I think is an awesomely cool technology."

You think a technology which cuts receive range to 20 miles if it is lucky, drops out constantly and has synthesized treble is an awesomely cool technology? You think that a technology which diverts radio from fixing the programming which is it's real problem is an awesomely cool technology? If you were a little older you probably would have thought 8 track players were awesomely cool too.
I never heard WMMS but listened to WBCN religiously during the 70's and early 80's. Now that was awesomely cool, they played local acts, had a top ten local act countdown every week, broke new acts, had local DJ's that were stars in Boston, had bands play live on the air among many other things,.... now that was radio. Music and personality were what counted then, and it sounded great and there was not an IBOC receiver in sight. There is nothing wrong with the sound of FM except for the mediocre, bland crap that comes out of the speakers nowadays. Tapes of progressive rock stations from the 70's should be required study for anyone who is in radio today. If not for the music, but for the freedom, variety and great jocks they had.
HD is dead, they just haven't buried it yet.

Don said...

Dear Bob Young-

HD is a cool technology and we've covered that I'm spoiled in Detroit because our HD experiment is on steroids to catch the ear of the autos. I get a great HD signal in the suburbs, downtown, and even in the far reaches of the Metro.

'Synthesized treble' is better than 'no treble' (current FM).

Don't argue the sound quality. It's superior to regular FM, regualar AM, and the satellite offerings. As an audio snob, trust me ...its better and ranks below only CD in terms of audio quality.

Your second arguement ... I can't deny. The programming content simply isn't there. Again, I'm spoiled because Riff2 is excellent. Radio Disny on 910-AM is unlistenable on standard AM, but with HD its tolerable - even if I am overloaded with Hannah Montana.

I did think 8tracks were cool, until cassettes took hold, and I really liked the music search feature on some cassette players. Until, of course there came CD. And since obtaining a true analog signal anymore is impossible, I've flipped all my CDs to MP3s and have everything on 2 iPods and I will until something better comes along.

But the argument here is HD radio. And my original arguement is 'why bash it?' The answer was not that anyone was bashing HD, but more the corporate hype surrounding it while abandoning any creative programming and content concerns.

HD is cool. If you're ever in Detroit, lets take a ride in my STS and I'll show you.

I've enjoyed this entire discussion, I LOVE this blog, and someday maybe I'll own a radio station and I'll play the same 70 songs the other AC plays because I want to make money ...but I'll do it in HD and my side channel will be Polkas!

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**They have some good stations and formats but I would never invest in a DAB radio to get them.**

You can't part with $100?

When cars in DTW start coming with them for free...then you'll get the benefit.

Anonymous said...

>>"Why the vile and hatred towards HD Radio?<<

>Why not - HD/IBOC doesn't work...

Yes, pocket, I hear people complaining about Stereo....and FM...and a lot of other things. You can't stop technology.

Doug Hanna said...

Now, the HD Radio Alliance says its members can add commercials to what has been commercial-free HD2 and HD3 channels. If few people were listening to these channels when they were commercial free, just imagine what commercials will do to listenership.

Doug
http://www.hd-radio-home.com

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Last January I received a commision check from the business we did on KSHE2. Doc's Harley Davidson and Cetero Research did pay and they are advertising on KSHE2 because they love it! We did know these people ahead of time, we knew that they would love KSHE2 and we gave them HD receivers. They do love it and they want to support it. They have renewed for 2009 and we are getting ready to add two more sponsors.
HD radio is alive and well in St. Louis where content is so compelling that people are gladly going out and getting HD radios. I don't know about what your engineers are doing but ours have made the best audio of any radio station that I have ever heard. We have new software that has drastically reduced dropouts. I drive all over the city and have no trouble receiving it.
Everyday I get e-mail and phone calls from people who are passionately devoted to KSHE2. It is one of the coolest radio stations on the planet. I am an original FM Underground DJ and we are playing more than 5,000 songs and adding more everyday.
It is a newer medium than the Internet, IPOD, or satellite. It is free! For two years I have been programming a high quality innovative radio station almost by myself. It is so cheap and easy to produce that even though the audiences might be smaller, the ROI is extremely high.
Because I was in at the beginning of FM rock as a new technology, I can easily see most of you making the same mistakes about HD as the AM guys did back in 1967. Up until now criticism of HD is like people looking at an egg and venturing opinions as to what the chicken will look like.
Somebody made these confident statements that they were sure that our sponsors were bonus spots. The funny thing is noone bothered to ask me or my partner Gordon Atkins about it.
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