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An open letter to attendees of the Minneapolis Conclave

Many of you attended the presentation by iBiquity on the future of HD Radio.

Here are a few highlights, as reported by Billboard Radio Monitor:

The company’s Don Kelly emphasized the technology’s advantages for radio stations: dramatically improved quality, with digital sound on FM and FM-stereo quality on AM, plus the elimination of hiss and multi-path; choice, thanks to the potential of multicasting; and interactivity, via text displays of weather, traffic, song titles, sports, emergency information and business news. Future applications will include on-demand audio, store and replay capability and potential commerce.

Let me ask you something.

What’s the point of being able to offer content in a state-of-the-art fashion if we don’t know what content to offer?

Further, where’s the evidence – hard evidence – that listeners are hungry for superior audio quality? In fact, the proof is very much to the contrary.

After all, home theater setups are designed to replicate the movie experience at home. The benefit is clear: You don’t have to leave your house and pay inflated prices to sit on a crappy chair and have gum stuck to your feet.

What, then, is the benefit of radio “theater sound?” What inconvenience does it displace? What problem does it solve?


While iBiquity touted those innovations, Telos Omnia’s Frank Foti, who is also among the veteran broadcasters developing the system, predicted that HD Radio’s greatest selling point will come in its second generation, with surround sound. The industry is already sifting through four potential standards that would integrate surround sound into HD Radios, though the application is at least 18 months to two years away.

Mr. Foti is obviously not a consumer marketer. Because if he thinks this is HD’s “greatest selling point” I would ask “to whom?” To the listener? Of course not. Not if fidelity is not what they’re buying when they switch on the radio.

Instead, it’s the greatest selling point to you and your peers, my friends, radio broadcasters all.

Some might say HD Radio is a pyramid scheme. And iBiquity is at the top of the pyramid.

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