The release of digital radio is widely viewed inside the broadcast radio industry as a critical response to other digital technologies, which are capturing a growing share of radio listeners’ attention. The defection of key radio personalities such as Howard Stern to satellite radio over the past year has focused broadcasters’ attention on the competitive threat.
How, exactly, does the defection of one of radio’s top talents have any bearing whatsoever on whether or not you receive 30 stations or 300? This is nonsensical. But no doubt, it genuinely reflects some of our industry’s misguided thinking.
“HD Radio is vital to the future of radio broadcasting,” said Caroline Beasely, chief financial officer for the Beasely Broadcast Group, a company with 41 stations around the country. “It will keep radio relevant, and you can’t overstate how important that is to our medium.”
This couldn’t be more wrong, and it’s most unsettling that it comes from the CFO for a major broadcaster who, at best, should consider HD one of many competitive weapons for the future, not the basket into which the industry should place all its eggs.
BMW–typically among the earliest of auto adopters–announced only this week that its new 2006 model year 7 and 6 series cars can now be ordered with a $500 HD Radio option.
So in other words, a luxury automaker is making HD available – as an OPTION – and an expensive one at that – in their high end luxury lines. This is a long way from radio for the masses, folks.
Radio should most certainly be hearing the bell toll in light of Howard Stern’s defection. But correct me if I’m wrong: When the loss of talent causes alarm, isn’t the problem absence of talent?
And there’s another name for talent: content.