Still Waiting for the HD Payday

There’s been a slew of news about HD Radio uptake, but as usual, not a lot of meat on the bones. Rather, it’s the continuation of a yearly practice of demonstrating signs of life. These are designed not so much for the radio industry or listening public as much as they are for investors waiting to see a return for subsidizing the system’s development and promotion. 15 years on from the founding of iBiquity Digital Corporation, they’re still waiting.
The most notable announcement is the (re)launch of an advertising camapaign to agitate listener interest in radio-via-smartphones. It’s based primarily around NextRadio, the Emmis-developed FM receiver application available on select Android devices. Until last month, the “Free Radio on My Phone” campaign generally advocated the benefits of having an FM chip enabled on mobile devices, but the new iteration directly promotes NextRadio itself, according to the campaign materials available online. Continue reading “Still Waiting for the HD Payday”

HD Radio Still Awaiting Breakthrough

It’s still a mystery just how iBiquity Digital Corporation remains in business as its proprietary HD Radio standard continues to go nowhere fast.
According to the FCC, less than 20% of radio stations in in the United States have adopted the HD protocol, nearly nine years after its proliferation was sanctioned; some have since turned it off. The technology has failed to crack any significant international markets. iBiquity and its mostly-conglomerate backers have tried various tweaks to the system in hopes of improving its robustness, but none show any potential to be a game-changer. Continue reading “HD Radio Still Awaiting Breakthrough”

HD Radio Increasing Format Diversity?

Dissertation research, phase two: explore and catalog interesting information about HD Radio from all available electronic resources except the FCC’s actual, entire rulemaking (that’s phase three). Initially, this involved exploring HD Radio’s proponents and how they present themselves online. It’s quite an extensive presence, involving two corporate portals, one consumer-marketing site, and a (user-restricted) site involving broadcaster and retailer education.
I just finished scouring the consumer-portal, where I re-stumbled upon a news release from March in which the HD Radio Alliance touted 1,000 FM stations now multicasting, and 100 receiver-models in production. The release includes two graphs. Continue reading “HD Radio Increasing Format Diversity?”

HD Radio and Industry Schizophrenia

Interesting samples abound about what the U.S. radio industry thinks about its digital future. When you thread them all together, you find a spot of chaos.
Late August, 2008: Stop IBOC Now!, a coalition of broadcast engineering professionals and listeners, publishes a 10-page list of comments from people within and outside the industry. This list is apparently a sampling of more than 200 received by the coalition to-date. All but one are negative on HD Radio. Continue reading “HD Radio and Industry Schizophrenia”

FCC to Consider Raising FM-HD Power Levels

Documents were filed with the agency late last week by HD Radio’s proprietor, iBiquity Digital Corporation, to allow FM-HD stations to increase the power of their digital sidebands by a factor of 10. The rationale behind this request is increasing field evidence which shows that the digital portion of FM-HD signals fails miserably at matching increasing analog signal coverage, and the existing power level does not allow digital signals to penetrate buildings very well.
This proposal does not come without risk; evidence of HD signals interfering with other stations is already well-known, especially on the AM side, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has completed a study that adds new information to the body of knowledge regarding FM-HD interference. Unfortunately, the results of this study have not yet been made public, though notably National Public Radio itself has not taken a position on whether or not increasing the digital output of FM stations is a good idea. Continue reading “FCC to Consider Raising FM-HD Power Levels”

Growing Resistance to HD Radio

After feeling like I’ve been shouting into the wind alone for so long about this, it’s great to see others taking a critical perspective on HD’s fundamental flaws. Check the following blogs for lots of information about this tainted technology, especially since these folks are also doing an excellent job aggregating news coverage of the issue:
Is HD Radio a Farce? – A good collection of information on what’s happening both within the radio industry and among consumers, who, by and large, seem to be holding their noses once they get a whiff of those “secret stations between frequencies.”
HD Radio on the Medium Wave (AM) Band – An excellent, if somewhat disorganized, collection of coverage about the increasing problems with AM-HD interference. Continue reading “Growing Resistance to HD Radio” Launched

The HD Digital Radio Alliance has launched its own web site,, which is being marketed as “the new epicenter of consumers’ digital radio lifestyle.” The site’s main press contacts, Kim Holt and Michele Clarke, work for Brainerd Communicators, a PR firm that deals with “corporate & executive positioning,” “media management,” “issue & crisis management,” and “consumer & viral marketing,” among other specialties.
The site has lots of content but no real substantive information. Even so, a couple of interesting aspects can be found. There’s a section of audio samples that purport to compare traditional analog AM and FM radio to the new HD sound. The analog samples often include demonstrable interference artifacts, like bits of static and fading, as if the recordings were made near a station’s fringe-coverage area or the receivers were slightly mistuned. The HD radio clips, of course, are interference free. Continue reading “ Launched”

Digital Radio Add-On Now Its "Killer App"

The languishing state of digital audio broadcasting in the United States following its introduction more than two years ago has spurred the nation’s largest broadcast conglomerates to form an “HD Digital Radio Alliance” to facilitate the bona-fide rollout of digital service. Key to this campaign is the coming of what the Alliance calls “HD2 multicast sidechannels.”
The ability to broadcast multiple program streams on a single radio channel is relatively new to the U.S. digital radio environment. As initially developed over the last 15 years (!) the dominant U.S. digital radio protocol, now known as “HD Radio,” did not accommodate a multicasting feature: National Public Radio spearheaded its creation less than three years ago. Continue reading “Digital Radio Add-On Now Its "Killer App"”