HD Radio – radio incubator

August 14, 2006

Fred Jacobs today, recounts a session he participated in at Conclave this year and talks about an issue I’ve addressed in a post title “Growth – where’s it coming from”. Using HD as a Radio Incubator. I think it’s a great idea – but I’ve also expressed concern about our industry’s stomach and williness to innovate.

From my original posting –

When CBS Radio created a pod-casting station here in San Francisco on a little AM signal no one even listened to – the response I witnessed among many radio insiders was amusement and ridicule.

We have no R&D effort in radio and even if we did – it appears we’d end up cutting it down with scorn before we were even able to learn anything new.

HD Radio offers us an unprecedented LIVE, local and national RADIO LABORATORY – to TRULY experiment – try brand new ideas – mix chemicals we would never mix on our “real radio stations”.

We have an opportunity to break ALL the rules – to question EVERY one of our “radio 101″ sacred cows in a LIVE environment with MINIMAL cost and next to ZERO RISK to the main business in the short term. How amazing is that!

Instead it appears that we’re looking at these HD side channels as “terrestrial” versions of Satellite “channels” (blues channel, jazz channel, salsa channel, etc…) that will be “allocated” by a central authority – and not as places to discover and INNOVATE tomorrow’s brand new mainstream radio products.

Consider this – all of the RULES radio has won with in the past – were based on a RADICALLY different audio entertainment environment. We don’t know it all anymore. 

Moving forward we need to start making new rules  -and they can forged BY US in the experimental Radio Test Kitchen called HD Radio.

But will we?

Or are we content to let other devices, serives and providers tell US how to entertain people with sound?
In Fred’s post – he relays this info

It became clear there was agreement that we need to focus on content, but content costs money. And this is not a time when radio can invest heavily in its product. Talk about a Catch-22.

I’m not sure what I missed – but if there was agreement that CONTENT was the answer – yet everyone is UNWILLING to invest in content – it really can’t be the answer – can it?

Or, it’s an answer to an irrelevant question – like – how can we make sure this medium is still dominant 10 -15 -20 years from now?

To which the answer would probably be – uhh I don’t understand the question – or – what does that have to do with me hitting my quarterly?

If Fred is right – and there is agreement from prominent radio executives that we need to focus on our product – but we WON’T actually invest in the product – than please tell me how this business is NOT dysfunctional and doesn’t in fact deserve to take a beating?

Do we REALLY think we can somehow AVOID reaping what we sow?