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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for November, 2008

Riding the HD Radio coat tails

On Nov. 28, 2008, NPR held a National Day of Listening that was highlighted by a special series that ran Nov. 22 to Nov. 28. The series, which NPR created in partnership with Story Corps, featured interviews of 10 popular NPR hosts, correspondents and commentators with their own friends and family.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? The series was carried on NPR affiliates across the country, and the segments were also posted online. I know some listeners found it to be compelling, interesting content.

What I found strange is that I received a press release about the series under a thin HD Radio veil. The release said, “Experience the first ever National Day of Listening on National Public Radio member stations [on] November 28, broadcasting in crystal-clear sound — only with HD Radio.”

It appeared that the series was only available to listeners with HD Radio receivers. As an effort to promote HD Radio, this is an ideal way to encourage listeners to obtain receivers with the technology. But as I read more I realized that HD Radio had nothing to do with the series. I asked a PR rep from the source of the press release, and I was told:

“With NPR’s National Day of Listening, we’re highlighting some of the most compelling programming on the radio today and we’re saying that there is no better way to listen to these multigenerational stories from across the country than in crystal-clear HD Radio quality. It’s a reminder to folks of the improved sound quality of HD Radio broadcasts and the many great receivers available on the market.”

So the series has nothing to do with HD Radio. Just to be sure, I asked if the series was being offered exclusively on multicast channels, which would be another way to promote HD Radio for what HD Radio has to offer. But alas, the reply proved that wrong: “This series will be broadcast on NPR’s primary stations, not multicast stations.”

I appreciate the intent of the release. HD Radio provides a clearer sound. We know that. I think most of the respectable trade press will see through this as well. Unfortunately, some consumer media may pick this up and only confuse the issue.

There’s no need to tack HD Radio to unique content when that content is available elsewhere. Make the content exclusive to HD Radio and not a tag-along to other forms of media.

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HD Radio in all vehicles – getting closer

I have said before that for HD Radio to succeed it must be in every radio. It shouldn’t be a choice for consumers to make, especially one that carries an extra cost.

We’re getting closer. Volvo will include HD Radio as standard in all but one of its models in 2009. See:
radiomagonline.com/currents/hd-radio-standard-volvo-cars-1119/

Good step in the right direction.

So who’s next to offer HD Radio as standard on all its models? I’m sure it’s the last thing on the minds of the financially troubled US auto makers. Lincoln, Ford, Audi and Mercury offer it as standard on some models.

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Radio on demand

I’ve received several announcements about new Internet radio services coming online. Some are juke boxes, some offer customized playlists, all of them have a variety of set channels or formats available.

Why don’t hear about local stations providing an on-demand service of their own? I’m not talking simply streaming the signal online. I know some stations offer alternate juke box channels with formats related to the station’s format. But if I’m a fan of a certain rock station, why shouldn’t I be able to go that site and access all the Rush (the Canadian trio, not the talker) or Joe Satriani I want?

We all know that Internet radio knows no borders while a local station caters to its signal coverage area. Some of the local flair of Kansas City will be lost to someone in Cincinnati, but national advertisers could find an engaged audience.

If your station is providing an online service beyond some fixed channels tell me about it.

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Who’s Next at the FCC?

With a new president comes new legal appointments. It’s already expected that Kevin Martin, a Republican, will be stepping out when Obama is sworn in. The two sitting Democrat commissioners are Adelstein and Copps. Which one of them could be appointed to be the chairman?

If I had to pick one, it would be Adelstein. Based on his comments and history at the FCC I think he has a better record of being broadcaster friendly.

Copps seems to have good intentions, but his actions always consider the broadcaster second or third. While I agree that public interest should be served, Copps seems to have an unrealistic view of what the public really wants.

I also wonder what other changes will be made at the FCC.

We’ll know soon enough.

Back into the swing

It’s November, and now the AES Convention, SBE National Meeting and a vacation are behind me. Maybe now I can start posting again.

Between NAB Radio, AES and the SBE meeting at the Broadcasters Clinic, I saw lots of people and had a chance to catch up. Did you attend any of the fall conferences or conventions? If so, which ones?

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