Re: Re: Re: WKLH HD

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Posted by John on July 11, 2016 at 11:03:07:

In Reply to: Re: Re: WKLH HD posted by Chris Tarr on July 07, 2016 at 20:12:26:

Chris, i respect your opinion as a broadcast engineer and really admire the work you've done across southern Wisconsin, but ... I'm just not drinking the HD Radio Kool-Aid.

Yeah, HD radio (or more specifically, HD/TMC can pass more traffic info than old RDS/TMC, but I don't think when this technology was sold 15 years ago, that the pitch was "it'll totally suck as a radio service for listeners, but you might be able to make some money on data!"

The nav systems that use traffic info from HD radio are a relatively small subset of the GPS nav systems out there, and whether those nav systems will continue to use HD radio for traffic in the future (versus, say, some sort of broadcast LTE solution from Verizon or AT&T or pre-existing services from Sirius XM) remains to be seen. It's not something I'd hang my hat on, anyway.

Back to the listener experience -- HD radio was pitched as satellite radio-like variety ... but for free! 15 years later, what do we have? Here in Madison, when Clear Channel has them working (which wasn't often, back when I still had an HD radio), you get a classical format (in case the two from WPR weren't enough), a niche station for LGBT, and two HD2 stations with bizarre jukebox formats, Plus 105.5's Blues channel -- if you can pick it up (is it still running low power?).

Midwest tried and dumped HD radio, which may be the one smart thing they've done the last few years.

I love new technology, and i love radio, but the way this has been rolled out by the broadcast industry is just awful. Whether it's the dearth of content (why bother getting an HD radio if there's nothing worth listening to on it?), or the poor sound quality (including, but not limited to all the issues with HD radio synchronization that led car manufacturers like GM to pull HD radio out of several car models last year), I can't think of a single reason to recommend HD radio to friends and family. Not that any have asked me in the last few years -- doesn't seem like there's been much of a marketing push in a long time, and percentage of new cars with HD radio is still stuck in the low 30s.

At best, maybe HD radio hangs on as a way to feed translators and for data subscription services, but as far as emerging as a successful technology for radio listeners? Seems like it has all the hallmarks of AM stereo to me.

As a fan, I really worry about where the broadcast radio industry is heading -- the never-ending cutbacks that axe local talent (and, by extension, the localization that should differentiate radio from Pandora or Spotify), coupled with the move toward "connected cars" that make it even easier for folks to listen to online services in the car make me seriously wonder what role broadcast radio will play 10 years from now.

Anyway, sorry for the doom and gloom. Back to your regularly scheduled programming... :)


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