High Def Ho Ho Ho

The wags on the Radio-info.com discussion board are at it again, under the heading “So, who got or gave an HD Radio for Christmas?”

KB10KL: I’m waiting for April Fools day to give any IBOC radios away.

“hey! This thing doesn’t work!” April Fools!

tested: Boy, this really does hit the nail on the head. I looked in Best Buy the other day and had a hard time finding the radio section. What they had was nice, but certainly didn’t contain any HD radios. I did find the Insignia walk-man type FM only HD radio in another part of the store, but again.. there was only one and it was an open item.

HD radio is dead. Radio itself is in trouble. Wake up to that reality.

radiogooroo: Content is by far the biggest problem facing radio. Radio as an industry has taken its one biggest advantage — live, local talent — and killed it. For example, know it all consultants have told us again and again that people don’t want to hear kids on the radio, not even during the night shows on CHR stations. As a former jock, I guarantee the KIDS wanted to hear themselves on the radio.

Those few seconds of airtime during shout out or goodnight kiss segments tied countless youths to the medium. It gave them the opportunity to be a part of something big, and made them advocates for THEIR station. My hometown had two CHRs when I was a teen, and young people were passionate about them. I remember small fights in my junior high art class when the teacher was deciding which station to put the radio on.

The core technology behind radio may be old, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The core technology behind my home’s central heat (which just came on) is way older than radio, but I’m not fretting its age. I’m a huge fan of what it provides, especially when it’s in the 20s outside.

If all the companies that make central heating units suddenly decided to start producing systems that didn’t provide heat, or provided half the heat they used to, or only provided heat when they felt like it, it might be time to consider some new technology.

Savage: Here we go again. Somebody points out how HD Radio, save for a few sharply-defined apps like public broadcasting, is slowly attaining room temperature (the AM flavor has been dead for two years but iBiquity and its developer-group operators just refuse to read the memo.) And the retort comes: “radio” is dead, not just HD. I don’t buy it. (I will add that this comment comes from the same posters who strenously assert “I really don’t care one way one way or the other about HD Radio” yet somehow invariably assail HD critics.)

FWIW, our local market of Rochester, NY is up this year after several consecutive years of declining radio revenues. We’re finishing up another record year, best in our history. And this performance is in an Upstate NY economy which is moribund at best.

Sure, radio has challenges. But I heartily agree with gooroo that any problems radio has are due to lack of content and a dearth of interesting, engaging programming, and not with technical limitations. Actually HD is contributing to technical problems found objectionable by typical listeners, by increasing interference and noise and limiting effective coverage. It is achieving precisely the opposite of its declared purposes. HD is claimed to provide a quieter, more high-fidelity end product, but in the end it delivers an artifact-laden, noisy, mode-hopping, limited coverage facsimile of the analog product found perfectly acceptable by the existing audience.

But the worst thing about HD is that it divides radio broadcasters and pits them against one another, as this board bears eloquent witness. If you are a believer in “radio” and think it has potentially life-threatening problems, you should also believe that HD needs to be spiked ASAP, so we can work productively together to address the future with a unified and confident voice instead of quarreling about something almost nobody in the real world cares about.

As a footnote I will observe that continuing to flog a dead issue like HD Radio makes the whole industry look clueless to those outside the industry. Just imagine the spectacle of Ford Motor Company continuing to hype the Edsel seven years after its disastrous debut instead of introducing the game-changing Mustang in 1964.


2 Responses

  1. Since I’ve had Amazon and Best Buy land on my blog Googling on “iBiquity IPO,” it is obvious they have some sort of equity-position in iBiquity. On Best Buy’s website, they indicate that the new Insignia is back-ordered, and it was discounted $20 before Christmas. There are only about 8 consumer reviews, and 80% are negative. Who does Best Buy think they are fooling?

    I’de be surprised to see iBiquity releasing too many more Press Releases about hyped sales figures. Since Keefe/Wolf came on the scene, Struble has been very quiet, along with Jeff Jury. I’ve seen only one PR:

    “Early Next-Gen Insignia HD Sales Good”

    November 2010 – “The portable, HD Radio’s first to feature Artist Experience — which are images related to the station, its songs or ads — hit store shelves Oct. 24, according to iBiquity’s Steve Baldacci, who told Radio World that early sales of the new Insignia HD are good, without going into specifics.”


    Yea, let Baldacci get caught with his pants down – LOL!

  2. I’ve been watching the hd radios at Best Buy near me and the same three lonely units are still sitting there (even after the Xmas rush). In fact, one has been opened and taped back together. Another indictment against hd radio. Watch for iBiquity media blitz announcing what a great year it was for hd radio.

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