Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Radio: Sing-a-long to Lyin’ Diane’s HD Radio swan song


Memo to Lyin’ Diane Warren, the new president of that Archdiocese of Ruse - the HD Digital Radio Alliance: Give me a break and give it a rest. No one’s buying your deceptive HD Radio campaign. Capishe?

I’m talking about the headline in one of the on-line trades just before Christmas: HD Alliance Continues Aggressive Marketing Campaign.

I ask – you’re continuing what aggressive marketing campaign? Did I miss something? If so, why?

I liked the line you used in one of the trades about taking advantage of improving the chances of your radio campaign being heard during lighter spot loads. Are you claiming that your message was lost because it was wedged in with all those other spots? I’m sure that one’ll go over well with clients that bought time on radio over the past couple of months.

So what is it that you’re trying to sell, Lyin’ Diane?

HD Radio’s workability? Its signal quality? Its HD-2, HD-3 audio?

Even your previous employer, Clear Channel, has backed off from supporting HD Radio except for that brief press release about its poorly named Real Time traffic service on HD Radio. Let’s see. How many cars are HD radio equipped? Thought so.

Just a few weeks earlier they threw in the towel on their what-were-they-smoking-when-they-came-up-with-this HD Radio format lab.

Maybe the HD Radio Alliance fooled some of radio chains some of the time but evidently Bain-Lee’s not among those easily conned.

I hope you’re prepared for those smaller chains that wised up and will not renew their licensing deal. It’s easier for them to cut their losses now and rework external broadcasting toward streaming audio on line.

In due course, one of the major chains will concede and your con game will end.

The Alliance makes one realize that there is something intrinsically childish about con artists. They just can’t get past a kid’s level of ethical development.

It didn’t help HD Radio’s dubious reputation when consultant and paid iBiquity shill Fred Jacobs did his stab of betrayal and was outted for his questionable and quickly-yanked research study.

There was that 41-question survey about HD Radio from Jacobs for iBiquity mentioned in a Radio-info.com forum on October 31 that was hastily replaced by a sanitized 16-question version. Some believe the original study was designed to set up the former – ahem – leadership at the Alliance.

Christmas was a bust, Lyin’ Diane – was it not?

Let me rephrase that. All of 2008 was a bust.

Now, look us in the eyes and tell us how many HD Radios have you really sold this year?

You’re lyin’, Diane, if you blame the economy for poor sales. Your sales were pitiable when the economy was hot.

How about this tally? For the second year in a row the HD Digital Radio Alliance ran more radio spots than any other marketer. That adds up to 1,697,082 spots, up 250,000 from a year ago.

You beat Walmart’s 1.64 million; Geico’s 1.56 million; Verizon’s 1.24 million, and Home Depot’s 1.22 million.

You still didn’t answer the question, Lyin’ Diane. Could you please look us directly in the eyes and tell us how many HD Radio units you really sold this year?

A few months back All Access carried an interview with Joel Salkowicz of Pulse 87.7. He had this to say about the Alliance’s radio campaigns:

In the current economic climate, it’s hard to imagine today’s typical radio company making the necessary investment in Programming for HD because they can’t realize an IMMEDIATE return on investment. A half billion dollars worth of air time has been thrown at promoting HD Radio! The most generous estimates put the number of HD radios out there at somewhere around 500,000. That’s about $1000 in airtime to sell each new radio. Kinda makes the $100 (or so) per subscriber in acquisition costs the satellite companies have been spending look pretty reasonable.

Here are the cold hard facts, Lyin’ Diane. If I were selling against radio I’d use your campaign as the perfect paradigm of how radio cannot sell products.

Now between us we know two facts: 1. HD Radio is something no one wants or needs. 2. Your creative can’t save it. It’s the equivalent of audio wallpaper.

Enter the huckster, iBiquity President and CEO Bob “Booble” Struble.

Let’s read his 2008 in review: "Despite the economic downturn, HD Radio technology made significant strides in 2008 with broadcasters, automotive OEMs and receiver manufacturers. With the backing of almost every major electronics manufacturer, HD Radio receivers will be at the forefront of the digital transition in 2009."

iBiquity deserves blame – I mean acclaim - for conning –I mean convincing – the major radio chains to invest millions in HD Radio conversions as well as paying those hefty license fees. Whoever sold that bill of goods should be up for the Bernie Madoff Integrity Award of the year.
*
Their campaign made other carpetbaggers blush.

I’ll credit iBiquity for their obdurate campaign to market a product no one would be interested in at a time when post-deregulation radio was badly in need of hook to push its product as “new and improved.”

Instead of exploiting a multi-platformed Internet presence, the NAB endorsed HD Radio. Think of where radio would be today had it gone full tilt boogie on the Internet?
*
Your problem was not just getting HD Radios under the Christmas tree. It was trying to get them to work.

Now you’re saying that for the side channels to work efficiently, you need a power increase, right?

You’re telling me that the product you claimed worked yesterday is not working today?

Here are the facts as plain as I can make them. If the FCC approves that ten-fold power increase you’re lobbying for, it will junk up the analog band with enough interference to render listening to analog FM impractical.

Don’t believe it? Ask any engineer who’s not on your, ahem, “payroll.”

Now, let’s get back to your latest “new radio campaign,” Lyin’ Diane.

You’re making still another attempt to push a product that the public has already told you through lack of sales it has no interest in?

Please don’t confuse yourself with the fact that the Great Recession – or whatever we end up calling this meltdown –turned U.S. shoppers frugal.

You see an abrupt turnaround in the economy?

Do you really believe consumers will spend $100 for an HD Radio? How about $50? $25? Even $10?

You know that the CES opens in Vegas on Thursday, Lyin’ Diane?

So far, the big buzz is about old media connectivity to new media. Let me explain.

For video, its televisions with built-in Internet connection for downloading or streaming video and ordering films on-demand from Netflix.

For audio, its portable Internet radio for both home and car.

HD Radio? Lyin’ Diane, I’ve got just the promotion for you. Take a page from “Where’s Waldo?” Ask “Where’s HD Radio?” One difference. You’ll have a better chance of finding someone named Waldo at the CES than spotting a display of HD Radios.

Here’s another fact, Lyin’ Diane.

In three months, we’ll begin hearing about a few over leveraged broadcast chains going belly-up. *
*
How about the roughly $200,000 it cost the average station to go HD Radio?

How many jobs have your folly cost the radio industry, Lyin’ Diane?

Maybe in your world it makes sense to replace working air talent and support staff with a frequency no one listens to and doesn’t generate a penny of revenue?

HD Radio - it’s not the gift that keeps on giving; it’s the mistake they keep on making over and over and over.

iBiquity, if it had a sliver of integrity, would kill HD Radio now. End it cold.

If a TV show doesn’t get its requisite audience, it’s cancelled.

If a movie doesn’t fill seats, it’s not booked for a following week’s run.

If a product doesn’t sell, you stop marketing it.

If a product doesn’t sell, you pull it off the shelves.

Unless it’s HD Radio.

Well, maybe they’re not removed from the shelves. In many case, Lyin’ Diane, they weren’t even stocked in the first place – right? Right.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was in RBR right after your new blog came on line:

Bonneville pulls iChannel Music

Bonneville has pulled the plug on its iChannel Music HD2 Network and streaming. For the most part, it has replaced the HD multicast with WorldBand Media content (brokered ethnic programming). iChannel allowed indie bands to upload their music online for consideration. The network included Chicago, DC, Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Phoenix. The stream is dead, but the site remains: www.ichannelmusic.com.

Anonymous said...

last year the hd alliance tried to put the spin on the macworld, claiming that jobs was adding hd radio to the iphone. this year the hd radio alliance can't even get their lies straight. i think this truly is the swan song for ibiquity. they can't carry on much longer. they've exhausted all lies, exaggerations and bullcrap.

74WIXYgrad said...

HD radio hasn't been anywhere near affordable and the HD side channels are no different than having an MP3 player, which you can use in an older car that has a cassette player. The attitude is it's going the way of AM stereo.

HD Radio Farce said...

Here's Booble Struble's latest piece of bullshit:

"Despite the economic downturn, HD Radio technology made significant strides in 2008 with broadcasters, automotive OEMs and receiver manufacturers. With the backing of almost every major electronics manufacturer, HD Radio receivers will be at the forefront of the digital transition in 2009," said Bob Struble, President and CEO of iBiquity Digital Corporation."

Google Trends for hdradio.com, hdradioalliance.com, hdradiouniversity.com, and msndirect.com are flat, even during Christmas:

http://tinyurl.com/7t8t6y

As for HD Radio on apple products:

"Will radio ever be built into an iPod?"

"And what's peculiar about that is that such gadgets are indeed on the market. But they aren't manufactured by Apple and they don't have 75% of the mp3 player market, the way the iPod does... Thus there is no chance - none whatsoever - that Apple computer will ever in a million years add an FM (or HD) radio to their shiny little miracle child."

http://www.hear2.com/2006/08/will_radio_ever.html

"The FM-Free iPhone"

"The NAB Board meeting in Washington this week has FM on cellphones as a big agenda item. Too bad the NAB and most radio CEOs do not understand Apple CEO Steve Jobs' thinking in continuing to exclude FM radio from the increasingly popular iPhone..."

http://tinyurl.com/57jw5b

The HD chips are still way too power-hungry and too large - LOL, Struble!

YEKIMI said...

And Wixy, the only reason that AM stereo went away is because when Clear Channel bought all the AM stations that had it they pulled the plug on it. I had an Am stereo radio and technically the sound was superior to FM...just those darn pesky lightning storms that tended to screw up the reception.

YEKIMI said...

Also there are a few AM stereo stations remaining, but alas, I can no longer listen to them since someone broke into my apartment years ago and stole my AM stereo radio. I know there's a web site out there that lists them. At least HD doesn't look like it will get the chance to bamboozle to many people anways, I was in a store that was only three miles from a tower that had a station that was broadcasting in HD and even though they had an outdoor antenna, they could not pick it up. Needless to say, I didn't buy any HD radios that day or ever.

bobyoung said...

I think you have it wrong John, iBlock has been a rousing success, if you believe iNquities claim of 500,000 receivers sold so far since it's inception, it works out to about 300 receivers per station nationwide, man, what market penetration!

Bob Young
analog, MA
KB1OKL

bobyoung said...

Yekimi, try a Meduci AMX-2000 AM C-Quam tuner, they're made right now and sound great, google Meduci.

Bob Young
Analog, MA
KB1OKL

Anonymous said...

Fred Jacobs - I can't believe anyone would still buy his racket.

Invented classic rock? Tell that to Dick Hungate and Marty Bender and others who were there when Jacobs was wearing his stupid leather beret trying to look like the guitarist in the Doobie Brothers.

Anonymous said...

This is the final stand of radio's old guard. HD Radio was a costly mistake with both time and money wasted for nothing.

Fare thee well, HD Radio, Clear Channel, CBS, Citadel, Cumulus and the rest as we have known them.

Evidence is overwhelming that those in control of radio were not qualified to run stations and got to only because of deregulation.

Hire qualified people in positions of management that understand the 21st century and what will draw listeners to radio.

I agree with Gorman that radio is not dead. The new radio and media landscape is different. Emphasis should be on interfacing with new media and developing station web sites as real profit centers and not just another value added tool.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to the HD radio backers, does anyone think the money spent on adding HD capability to the signal is what's killing radio? Yes, it was a mistake. But look at the list of mistakes the radio industry has made: voice tracking, syndication, excessive debt, over-inflated prices, unqualified employees top to bottom, unethical treatment of sales staff, corruption, etc., etc., etc. Compared to the totality of the blundering that's gone on in radio over the last decade, HD radio is really pretty minor.

Commader Col. Klink said...

Once again JG you've hit the nail right on the head. It's always a pleasure reading your Blgo. You inform, entertain, plus make me laugh and cry. A thing a long time ago called radio, used this same formula for its success too. I guess it still works..

"Radio is finished as we know it. But that doesn't seem to matter to people in radio. They talk a big game... The guys that run radio are these big people and they regard themselves as big people... I laugh because they are big in their own minds." - Cramer

Anonymous said...

"Compared to the totality of the blundering that's gone on in radio over the last decade, HD radio is really pretty minor."

Have you lost your mind! Hundreds of millions have been wasted on HD Radio, and now, iBlock is jamming our airways, especially on AM.

Anonymous said...

Good article, but damn, Gorman! You're pissed today!

Anonymous said...

In my market I heard those HD Radio spots on every station owned by Clear Channel and CBS. I cannot think of a spot I heard more often. You are right about the creative = it sucks!

I don't want to give my job away because it could reveal my identity by telling you why I have to listen to radio. I prefer to remain anonymous until I get a better job. I do not listen to radio these days because I enjoy it.

Something doesn't make sense now. If the HD radio group is doing a campaign why isn't anything logged?

Could the stations be giving it up?

Anonymous said...

Bain can't be too happy about this non revenue-generating expense.

Anonymous said...

I don't think these radio chains have a choice. How the bean counters haven't shut off the HD streams is beyond comprehension. It is a failure. No one can hear HD radio because no one is buying the product. Even if the chains invested in the technology why are they not cutting their losses? There must have been a lot of payola type deals done to keep these HD radio stations up and running. The bottom line does rule and Booble and Lyin' Diane's reign may be coming to a close. Let us hope.

Anonymous said...

"Even if the chains invested in the technology why are they not cutting their losses?"

Scam-srtists, such as Struble, know that once a group gets scammed that no one wants to admit to the group that they all have been scammed. Struble has a Harvard MBA and knows this well.

Anonymous said...

"Good article, but damn, Gorman! You're pissed today!"

He has the right to be pissed, just like the rest of us!

Nashville Joe said...

Like many others I was initially excited about HD...I can remember sitting in an NAB session in San Diego listening to the WOR engineer play audio samples and being blown away! I really thought I was listening to radio's future but alas I was listening to radio trying to harness a technology that was doomed from it's inception.

Radio feels it's in 'too deep' but they need to jump ship on HD and look to the future of how their station/brand will translate with the availability of wi-fi.

Anonymous said...

Just what the hell do you really have against Jacobs? Since when is it a sin to consult a company-- even a crappy one -- especially when that's what he does for a living! And how come we never hear about the stations John himself consults? Can anyone clue us in as to the stations or companies Johnny Boy works with?

Anonymous said...

Bonneville has figured out about the only I see there is to make money with HD, and that is to lease the channels to foreign language operators and ethnic operators, similar to the way many stations used to lease out their SCA subcarrier channels on a few stations in major metros a long time ago.

At least that way they're not taking audience away from their main revenue source and are receiving some kind of compensation in return.

Anonymous said...

Bonneville has figured out about the only I see there is to make money with HD, and that is to lease the channels to foreign language operators and ethnic operators, similar to the way many stations used to lease out their SCA subcarrier channels on a few stations in major metros a long time ago.

At least that way they're not taking audience away from their main revenue source and are receiving some kind of compensation in return.

Anonymous said...

Bonneville has figured out about the only I see there is to make money with HD, and that is to lease the channels to foreign language operators and ethnic operators, similar to the way many stations used to lease out their SCA subcarrier channels on a few stations in major metros a long time ago.

At least that way they're not taking audience away from their main revenue source and are receiving some kind of compensation in return.

Anonymous said...

Good point about Bonneville and that is why that firm is not lumped in with Clear Channel, Citadel, CBS, etc. There are still some radio people in the business. Bonneville is an investor in iBiquity so they are doing what they can. They have the right idea but what they should do is turn that programming over to the internet where there is better chance of reaching minorities. No minority can afford to buy another radio but most have internet access if not at home through community groups or libraries. This is where Bonneville could grow this business. I also think Bonneville realizes the scam behind HD Radio in pulling its ichannel service.

Anonymous said...

Who is the Jacobs sympathizer here? His brothers? You would have to be living in a cave no to know that Jacobs is a highest bidder kind of guy. Anyone who will sell anything to anyone and has a price that is easily found is not someone I would want consulting me! He is nothing short of a shyster. Give him credit for knowing how to play all sides against the middle.

Anonymous said...

HD Radio can't even lie well. Did you see this piece? Read this and ask who would care.

CES 2009: iBiquity: HD Radio Portables Due In ’09
By Joseph Palenchar

Las Vegas — HD Radio developer iBiquity expects a handful of portable radios and a growing selection of personal navigation devices (PNDs) to be available this year with HD Radio reception.


The portables will include an MP3 player with embedded HD Radio and an antenna embedded in the headset, said iBiquity COO Jeffrey Jury. Another will be a stand-alone AM/FM headset portable, and a third will be an HD Radio accessory that attaches to MP3 players. They’re on display along with PNDs without visible brand names in iBiquity’s booth.


With HD Radio receivers built in, PNDs receive high-speed, frequently updated, live traffic information, currently available through broadcaster Clear Channel on its HD Radio stations. Dual already offers one such PND.

The portables are made possible by new chipsets available from Samsung and Siport. Battery-life targets are four to six hours, Jury said.

Anonymous said...

How about that. Kevin Martin authorized temporary HD power increases. The stations will operate with up to 10 dB above the current limits. Stations are KOST in L.A. KROQ in Pasadena (L.A. market)WKCI, Hamden (New Haven, CT market) and WKLB-FM, Waltham (Boston market), MA. Too bad no one cares.

Anonymous said...

There are winners and losers at the CES. Some of the items introduced will never go to market while others will be instant successes. I don't think any other product was greeting with less enthusiasm than HD radio. My question is and it is serious and I am hoping someone can answer it is how did HD radio every get to go to market in the first place?

Anonymous said...

More on the power increase. Go here:
http://svartifoss2.fcc.gov:80/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/sta_sear.htm
and type in the call letters of KOST/L.A., KROQ/Pasadena, CA, WKCI/Hamden, CT and WKLB/Waltham MA

As a rule experimental authority is initially granted for 1 year. This is different since the increased power digital experimentation is permitted for for a period of between 60 and 180 days with the length depending upon the each applicant's request.

I expect the NAB and HD Radio Alliance will do heavy lobbying over the next couple of months with Congress and the Obama administration to get a time increase, which they can site a requirement to based on past rulings.

HD Radio Farce said...

"It didn’t help HD Radio’s dubious reputation when consultant and paid iBiquity shill Fred Jacobs did his stab of betrayal and was outted for his questionable and quickly-yanked research study."

Was I partly responsible for that? LMFAO!

Anonymous said...

The G4 cable channel which had continuous coverage of the CES and interviewed just about everyone with anything to pitch ignored HD radio. How does it feel to be unwanted?

Anonymous said...

"The G4 cable channel which had continuous coverage of the CES and interviewed just about everyone with anything to pitch ignored HD radio. How does it feel to be unwanted?"

Next time that I see Boobles, I'll ask him! ROFL!

Vic in Long Beach, CA said...

Hey John,
No news from the CC head-choppers meeting?

Vic in Long Beach
K9VC

Anonymous said...

WKNR finally did a mercy killing on afternoon drive. They took Munch Bishop off the air. First programming of 2009 and not a moment too soon.

Anonymous said...

Radio Shack has discontinued selling HD Radios.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said... Radio Shack has discontinued selling HD Radios."

"HD Slowly Passes Into The Night"

"Radio Shack has given up on HD Radio. Their stores have two radios in stock and both are on clearance. One radio that sold for $249 is now on closeout at $82. The other was $149 and now sells for $99. If that isn’t ‘get this out of here’ pricing what is? It appears no new models are coming to replace them. No surprise really... Best Buy, Circuit City and Fry’s are the same story. They don’t have HD units except for some car units and their people don’t have a clue what it does. Just ask them."

http://tinyurl.com/5s8zfk

No shit, and HD radios can't be found in any major retailers - RS just sells cell phones, so what were they thinking, anyway? Here's what Boobles said about 2008:

"With the backing of almost every major electronics manufacturer, HD Radio receivers will be at the forefront of the digital transition in 2009."

Too bad that stores aren't stocking them - perhaps Struble's 1.5 million chipsets are sitting in some warehouse. I read that Struble is very concerned about Public opionion, so let's keep tearing him a new one!

Anonymous said...

I would like to relate my experience as a listener with HD Radio.

I have a SONY XDR-S10HDiP radio. It is an excellent unit. I receive every HD signal in my market with just the short wire antenna supplied. And all 2 digital AM stations come in fine. The transitions to digital are rapid and seamless. The audio on FM HD-1 is impressive and the HD-2 channels are only slightly less. The digital AM is amazing! It could bring back music on AM.

The HD-2 channels are interesting. Folk music, Spanish language, Dance, Comedy, Jazz. Some are repetitive of the main station's format, but they remind me of early FM...automated, no (or few) commercials, owners who don't know what to do with them.

HD Radio, like all radio, needs creative people to again persuade the owners they can make money with these additonal outlets. Unless owners are willing to put some talent into the new HD channels, they will fail right along with the analog stations. But I believe the technology, as oddly done as it is, is an advance.

And Internet is another option, but what troubles me is the way the U.S. has strapped the Internet operators with unreasonable copyright fees and procedures. That's unfair and anti-competitive and should be addressed by the new administration in Washington.

Anonymous said...

"I have a SONY XDR-S10HDiP radio. It is an excellent unit. I receive every HD signal in my market with just the short wire antenna supplied. And all 2 digital AM stations come in fine. The transitions to digital are rapid and seamless. The audio on FM HD-1 is impressive and the HD-2 channels are only slightly less. The digital AM is amazing! It could bring back music on AM."

What, do you work for iBiquity, or the HD Alliance? LOL! You must live in visable range of the sticks. LIAR!

HD Radio Farce said...

"Even your previous employer, Clear Channel, has backed off from supporting HD Radio except for that brief press release about its poorly named Real Time traffic service on HD Radio. Let’s see. How many cars are HD radio equipped? Thought so."

"Microsoft sticks with analog"

"The company's MSN Direct was developing a new traffic and local information service using HD Radio signals. But after two years of investigating how HD Radio could be tapped, Microsoft decides to stick with its current analog system instead of converting to an HD Radio data service."

http://tinyurl.com/8unwdu

"MSN Direct Goes High Def with Clear Channel" 1/8/2007

"Microsoft Corp. and Clear Channel Radio today announced at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that they have executed a collaborative agreement to build a nationwide data delivery service using HD Radio technology, providing personalized and localized content to a variety of HD Radio receivers."

http://tinyurl.com/99wd9x

Oh well, Struble - LOL!