HD Radio Hype Boost

Diymedia.net is the best source for the scoop on HD radio technicalities (link on right). A recent post dealt with the FCC’s approving a power boost for HD radio transmitters, noting: “as predicted, NPR’s technical analysis was used as a foil to both approve the power hike and pooh-pooh any concerns of increased interference from the increase in digital FM power. It provided neutral cover for a questionable technical decision.” It also noted that the FCC decision gave the back of the hand to low-power radio, as well as rewriting the rules about interfering with another station. This is a must-read if you’re thinking of buying an HD radio or if you’re a radio station thinking of buying into the hype. Its conclusion: “The fact that the FCC is so willing to sacrifice the integrity of analog radio for a crippled digital replacement is deeply disturbing.” And it’s a digital replacement controlled by monopoly iBiquity, bosom buddy to NPR…


From Jeff Boudreau in Boston

WGBH Boston just released monthly (February) Arbitron ratings, indicators that track radio listenership, show that since the November changes, listenership at the new all-talk WGBH has remained flat and at the new all-classical WCRB’s has declined. It seems timely therefore to revisit the issue of what is going on at these stations….

Read the original article here.

…and some interesting comments in Universal Hub.

New! Improved! Economical!

In an Austin Business Journal story, KUT GM Stewart Vanderwilt is quoted as saying the new Belo Center that will house the station “will boast an open and transparent design [unlike station finances, which might as well be CIA funding] intended to engage the community at the street level and inside the studio.” The story noted that KUT has already raised $6 million of the reported $11 million it will have to cough up of the total $50.6 million price tag. Times are indeed tough… “The studio is designed with future growth in mind,” he said. “We feel that we’ll be generating more content on more platforms with creative and editorial collaborations.” Such optimism in the face of declining revenues. Gotta lotta faith in that AAA music and the new Arbitron PPM system coming this summer. As well as in all the business contributors and Leadership Circle members — not to mention the money the station receives from upstream (taxpaper money). Kinda mirrors the communications department’s attitude, cranking out new journalism students by the hundreds in a job market that’s questionable at best, in a field that is dinosaur-like in its prospects. As noted writer Pat Hathcock wrote in his blog, anthropology departments are cranking out graduates despite a 5,000-year supply of anthropologists. Read the biz journal story here.

Deck Chairs

The good news? Radio revenues will increase to $13.9 billion this year. The bad? They were $20 billion ten years ago. Sayeth one analyst:

I’ve been a big critic of the radio industry because it has not responded to the challenges of the Internet era and audience fragmentation. Instead of trying to develop compelling local content, the industry has stripped itself of good talent (the salaries were too high), innovative programming (it costs too much), and local news and information (it costs even more than music programming). The industry has not invested any meaningful revenues in to the digital world as it should have been doing over the past decade, while at the same time Mel Karmazin at Sirius XM is again building audiences and Tim Westergren at Pandora is attracting thousands of new listeners every week with their mobile phone applications. And let’s not even talk about the whole HD radio debacle.

These revenue projections are nothing to get excited about. It’s just more rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Read it all here.


WBFO in Buffalo, NY

Add WBFO in Buffalo to the list of “public” stations gone all-talk. And now WDET in Detroit, which ditched music several years ago, is bringing some music back — on its HD station (here). The more things change…

Eh, What?

Say, guvner . . . At the BBC, where HD radio is superior to that offered by monopoly iBiquity (and predates it by five years), suits are re-thinking the whole digital radio scam, preparing to give the ax to stations. In Europe, they use a completely different spectrum than that used by iBiquity. Here, they run right alongside the analog signal, degrading it and interfering with surrounding signals. But HD isn’t doing any better over there (over there).

And the ruddy blighters over there are even knocking the alleged quality of HD stations, to wit: “It appears that DAB in the UK and elsewhere suffers from the same fate as HD Radio in the US: uncertain demand for a digital service, combined with mediocre programming that doesn’t deliver on the promise of better sound quality than analog FM.” To the suits over here in the HD alliance (cartel?) and at NPR, that’s like taking a dump in the queen’s punch bowl. But now we’re hip deep in the big muddy . . . Read it here.

As a member of the Austin Facebook page noted: “I made the mistake of getting HD radio in my new car. It’s incredibly fragile, drops the signals frequently, and (sadly) the added content is usually just an inferior dumping ground for some category of music that the station doesn’t carry on their prime signal.

“On a personal note, I find that KUT3 is much closer to elevator jazz than the quality programming that Ray once provided. I guess they assume that the increased quantity makes up for the lost quality.”

Jeff Boudreau: Moon on Down

This was originally posted March 6 to Supporters of Folk and Blues on
WGBH: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=201481030324&ref=nf

Just returned from the Town Green Coffeehouse in Princeton where Brooks Williams was the feature. His new CD, “Baby O!,” is stellar. Will be officially released this week, RGBM -1001. Of particular note is the song “Moon on Down.” Brooks explained it was inspired while driving home from a gig in Maine, listening to Brendan Hogan on “Blues on WGBH,” who played a track from a field recording from backstage at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. One of the artists is heard to say “Men write about gamblin’ and cheatin’ and womanizin’ and murder, but women write about anything under the moon because they see it all.”

As I have said before, if there is a silver lining to WGBH management’s decision to kill “Blues on WGBH, it is that Brendan is playing out much more.

Brooks Williams – http://www.brookswilliams.com/
Brendan Hogan – http://brendanhogan.net/

I will be playing “Moon on Down” and two more tracks from “Baby-O” as well as three tracks from Brendan’s latest, “Long Night Coming,” and related songs this coming Tuesday, some time between 5-6pm on Worcester Community Radio WCUW, 91.3fm, www.wcuw.org.

Update from Brendan: “Yes, that’s a great story. From what I remember it was Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson (John Lee Williamson), and Memphis Slim chatting candidly and playing music together, recorded at length by Alan Lomax in 1948. It wasn’t Newport.”

Always like to get the facts straight.


The take away: How can “single format” NPR talk radio possibly match an artist listening to a blues program late at night be inspired to write a song?

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