HD Radio – Promise, Idealism, Reality

Outside of a few thinly disguised iBiquity PR channel “blogs” (did you guys even read Scobles book?) the vibe on HD Radio in the blogosphere is not all that great.

I’ve refrained from HD commentary on here mostly because:

  • I don’t have a radio and can’t render a complete opinion on how it sounds in real life (not in the “lab” or “test bench”)
  • I’m conflicted. I at once see it as potentially the dumbest waste of resources ever, AND the greatest opportunity for real radical change in broadcasting.

I probably should just blog the negatives when I’m thinking negatively about HD, and blog the positives when I’m thinking positively rather than remaing silent.

I admit there’s a part of me that really really WANTS HD to be all it’s advocates claim it is. But I don’t believe them.

Anyway – here’s a VERY technical article from Larry Loeb I found on HD (which BTW – explains that HD does not stand for High Definition – but Hybrid Digital) Are you Hyb yet?

But I very much liked the enthusiasm in this passage (before it gets too geeky)

Personally, I think HD radio has the potential to enable alternative content of all kinds, not just more corporate schlock. Sure, some stations will misuse it to clone what they already program, but I smell an opportunity here.

He’s obviously oblivious to the HD Radio Alliance handing out HD-II “formats” like loafs of bread in an eastern European Dictatorship. – You cannot have the Batard!

But he speaks to the POTENTIAL of HD. And that’s what I find most attractive about HD – the notions of what it COULD be.

This is why I’m often conflicted. I see the potential opportunities to totally change the broadcasting game – but what I see the industry ACTUALLY DOING really disappoints me.

Larry continues:

There’s no time like the present to tune in to the potential of HD radio.

As long as it’s still in its nascent stages, radio stations will be open to new ideas about localized content that will engage listeners.

Same thing. A great expression of the potential.

But if you’ve listened to Clear Channel’s HD-II channels for any length of time – you realize it’s pretty much low-rent music jukebox.

At least with Satellite there’s 1 person behind each channel who actually CARES about the music – and puts thought into crafting the channel. As a Jazz fan I was appalled by what Clear Channel’s HD-II “Jazz” channels sound like. They’re clueless.

Then – as I’m writing this – my RSS Reader alerts me that one of my daily must read blogs has a new post – it’s Mark Ramsey at Hear 2.0 with a brutally honest assessment of the current state of HD Radio.

So I grapple with the idealism and promise of HD Radio – and the reality. They are so far apart.


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