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HD Radio – all choice, no control

From Radio Business Report on HD Radio:

…[W]e got an indication of why [Infinity head Joel Hollander is] committed to the [HD Radio] effort when an audience member asked the group heads what gives them sleepless nights. “I want to make our product relevant to younger kids,” said Hollander, noting that his own children are telling him that listening to radio in college dorms today is pretty much zero. HD could be a way for radio to win back young listeners from iPods, Internet downloads and such.

Let’s leave aside the obvious exaggeration about collegiate radio listening. What Mr. Hollander is talking about is that kids today are exercising control over their music. They choose what music comes to them from a wealth of options online or from their friends.

How does expanding the universe of radio offerings by three provide control to the listeners? What it really does is move radio closer to the infinite choice already offered online and available with no additional equipment required.

Unless radio broadcasts what isn’t already widely available via other media rather than what is, we are destined to be the next great me-too.

I’m constantly amazed that no one in the HD Radio establishment is interested in answering the very important questions I’ve posed about the marketability of this technology. These questions tend to be deflected by the pat phrase: “Well, we need to go digital.”

Indeed we do, but “digital” and HD Radio are not the same thing.

Being digital means being available online. It means being available on an iPod or a cell phone.

It does not mean being “digitally redundant.”

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