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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 June 11th, 2009

What to do with multicasts

HD Radio has taken hold in many markets. That’s not to say that everyone can hear the digital signals, but they are there. I’m looking forward to getting a portable HD Radio so I can listen to HD Radio signals when I travel. For now, I scan the stations in Kansas City where I live.

The FM multicast capability is still one of the highlights of HD Radio. As a straight replacement technology (digital for analog), HD Radio has a challenge. Adding additional program streams adds new revenue streams, which I would think any station would welcome.

But maybe not.

I talked to a radio colleague the other day about his station. He works on air, and while his FM station transmits an HD Radio signal, the station does not have any multicast streams. I asked why. He told me the program director does not want to erode the primary listening audience on the main signal.

I can appreciate not wanting to harm the prime revenue source, but this kind of short-sighted thinking does nothing to help HD Radio acceptance, let alone grow a new listening audience or create a new revenue stream for the station owner.

With a little creative thinking, that program director could create a specialized format that would complement the main channel rather that erode it.

Multicast streams often do this quite well. If the main channel is a classic rock format, make the HD2 a deep cuts format and the HD3 a live cuts format. The multicast streams can reinforce the main channel rather than detract from it.

And when a listener doesn’t want to hear what’s on the HD1, instead of forcing him to the competition, let him turn to the HD2 or HD3.

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