“Do as I say, not as you want”

Sometimes I feel as if I’m too negative about the way the radio industry is tackling its future.

And then I read the headlines.

The recent spate of focus groups by Bob Harper’s company illustrated the obvious with unremarkable clarity: Given the choice between having HD radio multicast channels nestled beneath your current frequency (i.e., HD-1, HD-2, etc.) or having them spread out in a simple, extended fashion (i.e., positioned higher than 107.9 on the dial), the overwhelming majority of consumers prefer the latter – and probably think we’re a bunch of dopes for even asking.

Who can blame them.

{Although the sponsors of this research deserve credit for investing energy and dollars into bothering to ask consumers any questions about HD radio at all).

Needless to say, the “consumers’ way” is not the way HD radio will be making its bow. That would be just too marketing-wise.

Nope. Much better than to follow the wishes of the marketplace is to follow the wishful thinking of the industry. An industry which believes it can muscle the listener into doing anything it wants – except keep listening in an era of tremendous technological transformation.

As Bill Figenshu noted, there will be more than 36 million iPods in distribution by the end of this year. And the best projection on HD radio (from Forrester) is that there will be 10 million available – five years from now.

Wake up and smell the coffee, folks.

In terms of distribution (and distribution only), the HD radio effort is destined to make iPods the new radio – and radio the new iPods.

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