Bits and pieces from the week’s postings
• This post on radioworld.com has Sangean giving up on the manufacture of a portable HD radio. The comments themselves are quite interesting. In the google group, Milspec390 commented: “During the ’80s and ’90s, our small company sold quite a few Sangean receivers. The radio room here features several ATS-803A’s along with the RatShak DX-440 equivalent and the DX-398. They’ve remained in constant operation in the radio room and as well on field trips. Excellent units. Kudos to Sangean for producing winners while maintaining its ability to spot losers — and dump them. Losers the ilk of HD, Digital Radio, and other shonky little Globaloney control/revenue scams.”
• Jack Hannold sent along this to the google group, saying “This is an admission that ‘HD’ radio, as originally conceived, is unsaleable. Here are some more backdoor strategies, just like the translator gambit. (Of course, none of these have the same potential as translator abuse.)”:
HD Radio is “part of the answer for radio stations”, says Bob Struble at iBiquity.
Bob’s doing one-on-ones with journalists and my visit to Columbia, MD, last week provided both statistics and some context. Part of the background is Struble’s belief about where audio entertainment’s going. He says “online and streaming radio will not kill radio, nor save it”, because of the economics (the more listeners online, the higher the costs), mobile bandwidth capacity issues, and the competition from other providers. Struble – a tech guy by training — firmly believes that “AM/FM cannot be the only analog medium in a fully digital world.” iBiquity knew that during the recession, station owners wouldn’t be thinking about “cap-ex” – capital expenditures – for anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. So it’s been concentrating on encouraging existing users to monetize their system. That’s multicasting (the Pittsburgh Penguins HD-2 channel of modern rock WXDX). That’s leasing out entire channels (to Worldband Media or Hum Desi Radio for ethnic broadcasting). That’s traffic and data services (Clear Channel’s Total Traffic, Navteq, Broadcaster Traffic Consortium). And iTunes tagging (Ford’s in-car Sync makes e-commerce possible). And “next generation features” that will offer album art and other graphics, plus pause-and-rewind, and time-shifting. I told you there were statistics, and here they are. There are 2,356 U.S. stations licensed to use HD Radio in the U.S., and 2,078 actually on-air. That compares to 2,055 licensed in 2009 and 2,031 on-air. Clearly, a lot of owners are keeping licenses in their back pockets, and that doesn’t surprise Struble.
iBiquity aims to export HD Radio.
CEO Bob Struble’s not talking specifics, but he knows the DAB system developed and adopted in Europe (once called Eureka 147) isn’t exactly taking the world by storm. He knows that as a practical matter, Canada and Mexico won’t have digital radio systems that are different from the U.S. And he knows that China, with its billion-plus people, is exploring next-generation radio and constitutes a huge potential market. iBiquity’s investors, both radio groups and some venture capital firms, want to see a return on their investment someday, and licensing the technology to non-U.S. broadcasters is part of the strategy — just as Arbitron derives some income from licensing its PPM device beyond U.S. borders.
• Also in the google group, note of this post from radio-info.com, by way of Jack, who notes: “So now EMF has a stake in in IBOC, and they’re real G.O.P. partisans. That makes it even harder to fight.”
In Minneapolis, Clear Channel’s on its new translator, but not the new tower.
This is the novel deal between the country’s largest commercial broadcaster and the country’s largest non-commercial Christian broadcaster, “K-Love” originator Educational Media Foundation. Namely – EMF gets to program the HD-2 channel of Clear Channel’s WMXD (92.3) in Detroit, making it easier to feed some translators. While Clear Channel is buying outright EMF’s Minneapolis-market translator at 103.7. But there’s been a hangup on the Twin Cities end, as NorthPine.com reports. K279AZ, Cottage Grove, MN has a construction permit to move to the downtown IDS Center, but Northpine says it “couldn’t reach an agreement with the owners of the shared antenna it originally planned to use.” So there’s a delay. For the moment, the signal at 103.7 is on the air from its original site, but has dropped the K-Love contemporary Christian network to repeat Clear Channel’s adult alternative “Cities 97” KTCZ. Clear Channel’s June 30 FCC filing stated that the translator would fill in coverage of its talk KTLK-FM (100.3). But neither KTLK-FM nor Cities 97 needs the help. Is Clear Channel instead planning on giving its all-sports K-Fan (KFAN at 1130) a lift onto the FM dial? Or will it debut another new format altogether? It could do that by feeding it from an HD-2 channel.
• Jerry Del Colliano’s Inside Music Media posted up on the trend in commercial radio, which, unfortunately, also appears to be mimicked in what is euphemistically called public radio:
People Meter Panic
Have you seen that Cumulus is now imitating another “C” broadcaster — this time, not Citadel or Clear Channel, but CBS.
CBS was first to build People Meter hit radio stations that attract huge cume in Los Angeles, New York and Detroit. Keep in mind People Meter numbers do not necessarily reflect listening but it’s the only ratings game radio broadcasters have these days.
While Myrtle Beach is not exactly New York in size, Cumulus is using its new format “I” (The “I’ must stand for Imitation of CBS). The “I” format is also on Cumulus stations in Dallas, Nashville, Indianapolis and Pensacola. You get the idea. The recent format changes are on Cumulus stations that are not performing well so imitating CBS means nothing to lose.
Few if any jocks.
Even “Commercial Free Mondays” like CBS used to do it and “10 Songs in a Row Every Hour.”
Radio operators are figuring out how to place nice with the People Meter. CBS got out in front. But “I” radio is a direct ripoff.
Not hot and not even cool.