Radio's Digital Dilemma On the Road

Been a busy month so far: I started out in San Francisco at the Union for Democratic Communications annual conference, where I got to give a preview of my new book and its gory details. It was well-received, especially among policy scholars who hunger for some good old-fashioned muckraking.
Then I was in Australia last week for the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s annual conference. I was the Saturday keynote, and compared to Australia’s digital transition, the U.S. looks positively retarded. The talk itself was recorded, but no word on when it will be online.
A trade publication printed a short story about my talk, which makes me come across as much harsher on HD Radio than I really am. So to any of those who wish to tar me with the hater-brush, let me be clear: I believe in the future of radio broadcasting. I even believe that HD Radio may still provide an important component of radio’s digital transition—but it’s abundantly clear that the system has some fundamental detriments which, exacerbated by a regulatory regime wholly enamored with money over science, threatens to marginalize radio as we’ve known it without some sort of radical rethink.
I don’t know just what that rethink might be, but I firmly believe that the longer HD’s malaise continues, the harder it will be for radio as we’ve known it to find a firm place in our convergent modern media environment. I’m not out to throw stones, but identify problems and seek solutions. The first step to addressing any problem, however, is admitting there is one, and I do believe I’ve proven that beyond a reasonable doubt.
To that end, I’ll be in Washington, D.C. later this week speaking about the research that went into Radio’s Digital Dilemma, and how historiographers more generally can find useful purchase in the present in ways that can constructively affect the future. If we wait too long to study the past, then it becomes an archival exercise, which helps nobody but historians.
I’ve also developed some interesting industry contacts who are surprisingly open-minded about my research and also seek to constructively change the status quo. So I’m heading to the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention in Las Vegas next April to meet with them and see where potential points of common ground may be found. I’ve also tendered a request to be a part of any formalized discussion the NAB may be hosting on radio’s digital transition, but I don’t hold out much hope that there’s open-mindedness to be found within the NAB itself.
Radio’s Digital Dilemma is now available for pre-order directly from Routledge (use the code JRK96 at checkout for a 20% discount) or from Amazon. The hardcover is obscenely overpriced, and yes, this pisses me off to no end. There will also be a companion e-book version, which I’m hoping will be more sanely figured. If enough copies of the first run are sold, a paperback version will follow, and that may actually be rationally-priced.
In the last month, I’ve developed a lot of respect for what touring artists go through. And this is all before the book itself is even out. Here’s to a fruitful 2014: if you’re interested in learning more or having me around to tell the story of radio’s troubled digital transition, just drop a line.