This post on Air Chexx (“Where classic radio lives”) makes no bones about webmaster Steve West’s opinion of HD radio:
In short, HD Radio, for all the hoopla and push for it back in 2005-6, is an abysmal failure. It wastes bandwidth, power and has ruined the AM and FM bands for DX’ers. Most of all, it’s not marketable, with any potential listening audience unable to hear these new channels (stations between the stations, as the industry tried to sell it to the public as) due to a lack of interest on the part of manufacturers. Sound familiar? It should. The five years back in the 80s that it took manufacturers of SOME car radios and only a select few Sony Walkman and table radios to finally include Motorolla C-Quam AM Stereo decoders finished it for AM Music stations – it truly sounded better than FM, but there was never an audience to appreciate it, and just about the time the receivers hit the market in any kind of meaningful numbers, most AM music stations bailed on the format for talk.
Watching stations dump their HD channels this month, I conclude that HD radio is a failure and most radio groups know this. Just about the only worth these extra HD channels have is that of feeding a translator with a separate format. Look for an accelerated move by radio to dump HD and the increased energy bill that comes with it this year. AM stations are already rushing to go back to analog only – at least at night. That can only be a good thing, since the AM band was rendered almost unlistenable a couple of years ago when HD was authorized….
In the end, your webmaster believes nobody will listen and HD in a few years will be gone (like Quad and AM Stereo before it), remembered sadly as another fad that one company, iBiquity, managed to get the impressionable commissioners at the FCC to cram down radio’s throat. Prophetic? Maybe.