Radio digitale, lasciate fare ai giovani

La tecnologia HDr non è dead on arrival, morta in partenza. Semplicemente ci sta mettendo più tempo del previsto a decollare

da Radio Passioni

Visto che ne stiamo parlando, mi sembra doveroso pubblicare questo intervento di Audiographics (insieme alla storia a sua volta citata da Radio&Records) assai pessimista sulle reali prospettive di HD Radio negli USA. Io non sono affatto sicuro la tecnologia sia davvero Dead on arrival, morta in partenza. Semplicemente ci sta mettendo più tempo del previsto a decollare. Ma la questione affrontata qui è: il digitale basta per tamponare l’emorragia di pubblico giovanile che sta svuotando il futuro della radio? E le conclusioni tratte dalle due testate non sono poi così peregrine. E’ inutile cercare di rispondere alla crisi proponendo ai giovani una tecnologia come HD Radio e riempire i nuovi stream di musica. La musica è una materia che i giovani cercano e trovano altrove. La radio non sparirà se rimane locale e analogica ma rischia di sparire se il digitale è rappresentato da HD Radio, afferma Audiographics. E Radio& Records ribadisce: perché accendere un impianto HD Radio su un format country & western? Che senso ha? La creazione di programmi per HD Radio dovrebbe essere riservata a chi ha meno di trent’anni: i ragazzi sarebbero perfettamente in grado di inventare la programmazione giusta, con idee che nessuno di noi “matusa” potrebbe mai avere.

HD Radio: Skepticism is Spreading

Could the cracks in the HD Radio picture be starting to show? Is there a change underway in the mindset of radio industry execs that HD Radio – as it is being positioned – is not the answer to radio’s future?
Since its introduction, there have been dozens of radio pros who’ve called HD Radio a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, that it will not be what springs traditional broadcast into the technological age, and that the radio ads positioning HD Radio in the public’s mind don’t say anything.
What was the radio industry’s response? Spend $250 million more in radio ads for 2007, accompanied by a push from its HD Radio Alliance to speak of wishes instead of facts, and a continuous promotion for consumers that sends them to retailers – which leads them to bare shelves and to clerks who don’t have a clue.
Didn’t anyone involved with HD Radio’s introduction take Marketing 101?
There are signs that this facade may be coming to a close. One reason is that the most recent disappointing report is printed in the radio industry’s trade-of-trades, Radio & Records, not usually known for reading the cards as they are laid out when it comes to bad news for radio. But read this article concerning HD Radio, which is featured at It speaks of insiders’ opinions during R&R’s round table discussion “Keeping Radio Relevant for Tomorrow’s Listeners.” Reality is finally setting in.
Some of the negatives that this R&R article points to are:

HD’s added stations will “further fracture” the audience.
Sales trends to date are less than stellar (far less).
Radio bigwigs are finally questioning the concept of promoting “stations between the stations.”
Consumers can’t find HD Radios, and clerks don’t know how to sell them.
Pulling in an HD Radio signal requires an antenna with a shot of Jack Daniels.
There’s nothing being programmed on HD that appeals to youth.

Here are a few more negatives not mentioned…

Detroit has locked up the dashboard with satellite radio commitments.
How’s a program director going to create quality programming for their added-on HD stations
when they don’t have enough time to improve the multiple broadcast stations they currently program?
The price for a receiver is too high.
There are not enough programs in a single market to warrant the cost of purchase.
There’s no buzz.
These are not new negatives, only ones that have been ignored. They should have, at the very least, been more deeply investigated as criticism kept piling on over the past few years.
One of the first important people to voice an objection was Robert Conrad, highly respected owner of classical station WCLV and of Seaway Productions. It was in June of 2006 when Mr. Conrad questioned what radio was getting into. Today he writes a letter to WCLV listeners (at about problems the station, and he, personally, have experienced with HD Radio. Quoting his attempt at having an HD receiver installed in his car: “The technicians, in spite of numerous calls to Crutchfield, were unable to get power to the unit.” Not a good sign.
The writing has been on the wall for HD Radio since its inception, reinforced through this Audio Graphics polling of readers. And, you’ve heard many, many, professionals who have been forced out of the industry declare this another bad judgment call (surpassing the increase of commercials and cutting newsrooms). So, industry leaders can’t say they weren’t warned.
It’s time to stop this white elephant from devouring any more of radio’s energy. It’s time to take whatever money is being pumped into HD Radio and use it to improve programming, or to get online streams and web sites up to par. Maybe now that Radio & Records is acknowledging there’s trouble in River City, we’ll start seeing a graceful exit from this quagmire.
Youth would LOVE to have HD, except there’s nothing but music on its signal and music they can get anywhere. Those over thirty would invest in HD if, and only if, they were given a fair representation of what they’re being asked to hand over $100 to $500 for. But, that’s not an easily uncovered item.
Since consolidation, radio industry executives have had a very tough time balancing the cost of programming with revenue. It should have been obvious a few years ago that adding to a need for more programming isn’t the answer.
We may see several industry honchos exiting before too long because they misread the HD scene so badly. Then, after they’re gone, there’s only one more question to be answered: What is going to be done with all the HD Radio side channels once this concept goes belly up? That answer could be here.
Radio isn’t going to disappear if it stays local and analog, but it may disappear if it continues to try and go digital with HD.

Is HD The Answer To Radio’s Youth Listening Exodus?
By Keith Berman

With radio persistently losing listeners to other media sources like iPods, the Internet and somewhere around 10,000 cable TV channels, HD radio is aiming to serve as a draw to bring younger listeners back to the terrestrial airwaves. But detractors warn that the additional digital channels offered by HD technology could only further fracture an already scattered audience.
In any case, the latest progress report on the potential of HD radio reveals some serious vulnerabilities—despite radio programmers’ best intentions to utilize those new channels to attract the masses, of all ages.
At R&R’s “Keeping Radio Relevant for Tomorrow’s Listeners” round-table discussion held Aug. 17 in Los Angeles, participant Larry Rosin (pictured), co-founder/president of Edison Media Research, admitted, “I did a study on HD radio, and the women were laughing. They were literally mocking the commercials.”
Jacobs Media senior consultant Dave Beasing concurred that current promotional campaigns aren’t exactly turning the tide: “I find increasing awareness of HD because of the promos, but low intent to purchase.”
Indeed, marketing might be called into question, with many studies showing that the general populace still doesn’t know what HD radio is—and even worse, many in the industry telling stories of attempting to buy HD radios from electronics dealers whose salespeople have no clue what the product is.
Another issue: Once a consumer finds someone selling an HD radio, installing it and getting it to work can be just as difficult. Spanish Broadcasting System VP of programming Pio Ferro told his own story of trying to buy an HD radio for his car and having to jump through numerous hoops to get the proper equipment.
“We’ve been running HD on [Latin pop] WRMA [Romantica] in Miami since the capability was there,” he said. “When it came in, it sounded phenomenal.” However, getting a consistent signal proved to be an irritating challenge. Even so, HD has become a priority for SBS.
“The marketing message of ‘stations between the stations’ is difficult,” Ferro said. “It’s hard enough to get people to write down 96.3—but hopefully [the Portable People Meter] will make that easier.”
Rosin also had difficulties with HD. “I can receive one HD station in the New York metro, a Christian station from New Jersey that I didn’t know existed until I got an HD radio,” he said. Broadening that landscape to the industry as a whole, Rosin revealed that last year at the NAB Radio Show, he went to the HD radio Web site and counted the formats available.
“As of last September, it was clear the programmers of America considered the killer app to be classic country: It was the most-programmed format. But I’m skeptical that classic country is what’s going to drive people to Best Buy and Circuit City and say they need HD radio,” he said.
Rosin’s point: If you’re not programming formats targeted at listeners under 30, how can you appeal to them and get them to listen? “I’ve long said HD shouldn’t be trusted to anyone over 30,” he said. “It could potentially foment the revolution that FM was in the ’60s and ’70s. Kids will come up with ideas that none of us are capable of, and it will create incredible programming that will drive sales.”

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