Why make 31 flavors when you can’t even get vanilla right?

Eric Rhoads, in a blog called Radio Ink Tank, posted a rather favorable, if critical, article on HD radio called “Are You Killing HD Radio?” (And he admits to a conflict of interest, having marketed a brand of HD radio.) But the real action is down below, in the comments. Here, for instance, is a deejay’s perspective:

When I’m done with my morning show, voice tracking the weekend, updating the website, cutting a spot or two, maybe I can keep my job another week. My GM will not notice if I didn’t load a log into the HD-2 automation, because while we all have an HD radio, they aren’t worth the fuss. They don’t work consistently. I will buy batteries for my mp3 player at least. While 128k MP3 sounds fine to most everyone, the obsolete codec on 32-48k HD2 sounds like a poor webcast no matter the source material. The HD reception failure is frequent and abrupt and only the HD1 will fall back to noisy analog just when it’s at its worst, plagued with multipath and iboc hash. Listen to the irritation of alternating digital-analog in HD1 or digital-silence in HD2 and HD3. Tune the dial and hear all the new competition from market drop-ins, city of license moves, FM translators, hispanic music and Jesus pop. FM is now AM and is polluted with trash. To think we can just throw on some alternative programming for the kids and make it work like FM in the ’70s is ridiculous. There was a thing called hi-fi that made FM work with obscure programming and they still had problems selling it. Was it like now where radio does not promote or advertise itself except on sister stations? Back then, when the music listeners all moved to FM, we AMed it. We even made it sound worse than AM with the latest audio processing. We did promote FM on billboards after it became mainstream.

Ibiquity investors, i.e. big broadcasters, get to keep their infrastructure while jamming competition from adjacent markets and community-oriented class A stations. HD2 and HD3 stations (the stations between the stations) have essentially been granted by the FCC, without allowing new competition, for paying Ibiquity. What would two new station construction permits cost in New York? Competing applicants are avoided. All paid politics.

For now and the future we’ll play the few most recognizable songs on all channels for Arbitron. Not diversity. Not quality. Nobody from the station is even listening all weekend. We need at least some time off from doing six jobs all week. So if we don’t listen, why would the listeners? For the six analog stations running here and now the 4 hd channels and less than ten people on the programming staff, this is more like an automated factory than a creative medium. We don’t have promotion budget for our primary signal, much less for an HD2. Why make 31 flavors when you can’t even get vanilla right? Not when listeners have every type of music they can run their own jukebox without commercials. Not when web casting has much better sound and reliability. Not when the web casting is on your phone and in your dash. FM is now AM and it is time for a whole new thing and big broadcast will be out of the picture because of their greed (and huge debt for some rusty towers).

And this from a station owner:

Just read your HD article. I have a different take on what is killing HD, and I think you missed it. You see, for the first time an “industry technical standard” is being LICENSED instead of offered as “open architecture” to broadcasters.

To my knowledge, this has never happened before in the HISTORY of broadcasting. Imagine what would have happened to FM if Armstrong had wanted 25k per station and a percentage of your HD revenue instead of offering it as an open technical standard. What would have happened if David Sarnoff at RCA had tried to make the networks pay for phase modulation and color TV? Never before has this happened and the result is obvious.

No, Ibiquity is killing HD. 125k and a precentage of my revenue for my stations in Montgomery to license HD. Not over my dead body. I’ll use that money to establish a beachhead in the digital space.

I’ve already hired two web designers and a sales force, and tomorrow I will debut BuzzMontgomery.com — a local, digital town square complete with 4 custom designed, listener interactive, commercial free digital music streams (in addition to my 5 broadcast streams). This is where the future lies.

HD radio is already terminal. Ibiquity tried to put their hand in my pocket instead of licensing the receiver manufacturers. I choose not to participate in my own mugging.

HD is not going to survive unless the standard is made “open” and free. Just one broadcaster’s opinion.

RIP Ibiquity. RIP HD.

Something to think about.


One Response

  1. “HD radio is already terminal. Ibiquity tried to put their hand in my pocket instead of licensing the receiver manufacturers. I choose not to participate in my own mugging.”

    I do not quite understand this quote. iBiquity charges fees all the way through the HD Radio cycle from transmitters sales, software upgrades, chipset manufacturers, to retailers:

    “The ongoing tragedy of HD radio”

    “Supposedly, it costs a manufacturer about $50 to implant an iBiquity HD chip into a radio, thus transforming it into an HD radio. That $50 (or so) is the fee the manufacturer pays to iBiquity. The actual cost of this technology is, of course, likely to be a few dollars at most.”


    It’s all the cockroaches at the HD Radio feeding trough.

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