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.