Friday, March 20, 2015



Q:  Are you still pursuing your FCC Complaint that iBuiqity’s HD Radio system is a failure and does not service because so few people are using it?

A: I am but there is nothing new to report. I’ve noticed that my readership drops if I post too often about HD Radio.  I don’t think many people care about HD Radio – they given up on it. To most folks in the media biz, an HD Radio tuner should be put in the same storage box as AM Stereo and FM Quad receivers.  All are technologies that looked good in the lab but failed to catch on with the public.

Most of messages about HD Radio have reached me via my business email:  Some are confidential from “insiders” who have grievances or feel they have been burned.  In my 40+ years in the biz I have never seen such hard feelings expressed about a broadcasting technology and the way it was implimented:

COMMENT ONE: Are you aware that there may be a restraint-of-trade issue in the "HD" radio mess? [confidential company name], one of the two entities that merged to form Iniquity licensed the earlier technology of a small silicon valley firm which was then called Digital Radio Express, Inc. [“DRE”]

DRE went on to develop a much better compatible digital system for the FM band under the trade name "FMeXtra." The DRE system replaced the traditional analog SCA carriers with digital SCA signals. FMeXtra did not interfere with adjacent-channel stations. And it's coverage was much better than Iniquity's "HD"

And the system was not only much cheaper to buy than "HD" -- it was also much, much cheaper to operate, since it could use the same "Class C" finals used in analog-only FM transmitters.

But that system was never aggressively promoted as an alternative to "HD" FM, apparently because of some sort of anti-disparagement clause, or perhaps even an arguably illegal anti-competitive clause, in the licensing agreement between DRE and Iniquity.

I don’t know enough about this situation to comment.  But, delivering IBOC digital radio via already existing subcarriers converted to digital seems logical.  Advocates of DRE’s system says it sounds good but I haven’t seen any independent analysis.

COMMENT TWO: One of the reasons no one will echo your thoughts about HD Radio is the fact that iBiquity has spent a ton of advertising money with industry publications.  Have you seen all of shiny ads in Radio World?  iBiquity must be RW’s largest advertiser.

From what I’ve seen, Radio World’s coverage of iBiquity and HD has not been compromised by the ad buys.  I think the reason you don’t see much new about HD Radio (other than iBiquity press releases) is that very, very few people care about HD Radio.  They’ve moved on and Radio World wants to cover things readers care about.



Q: I was surprised to see that only four of the top ten Christian Contemporary Music [“CCM”] stations are in the South. I thought most Evangelicals live below the Mason-Dixon line.

A: CCM stations perform differently than old-school Christian stations. A large proportion of Christian “teaching” (sermons, talk shows, etc.) and gospel music stations are in the South.  CCM stations seem to perform best in markets with lots of yuppie women – that is who CCM stations target.

Thank you for reading and sending comments.  I love doing this blog and I am always looking for ways to improve it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not really a fan of HD Radio but it has its uses. We're making good use of HD on our WRNI-FM by leasing an HD2 to They use it to feed their translator in nearby Newport RI, which needed a new primary when they sold their old 92.7 signal (now WBUA). They do have a new primary FM out on the Vineyard again, but it's on the same freq as WJMF in Smithfield/Providence and there's no way the Newport location can receive the new WMVY on 88.7.

    It works out fairly well for all involved. RIPR makes a few bucks a year off the deal, and we're helping out a fellow non-comm station that we happen to like a lot.

    But there's no question this wouldn't have happened if I wasn't the CE of RIPR because the actual owner of the translator is former employer, current mentor and good friend of mine. Fortunate coincidence for all involved, but kinda limits the utility of this situation to be analogous to anyone else.

    Still, leasing an HD2 to feed an analog translator is certain a good way to make use of HD Radio. I'm well aware of how "weak" that sounds given the original purpose of HD Radio, of course. :)