Journal Expands HD Radio Commitment

Half of Journal Broadcast Group’s 35 stations are transmitting in digital and the plan is to take the rest of the group digital next year.

So says VP/CTO Andy Laird, who says he’s raising FM digital power on three stations now and working on implementing Artist Experience, with plans to also roll that out next year.

Journal would then join other radio groups, like Clear Channel and Greater Media, in implementing the advanced data feature of HD Radio in which the audio is synched with visual images on a receiver display.

Speaking during a Radio Show session, Laird said he’s standardized a lot of what goes into organizing, storing and transmitting album art with the digital signal.

Ford Business Development Analyst for Mobile Scott Burnell estimated that 50% of new cars available now have some type of large-screen infotainment system. Consumers “want everything,” basically, “the ability to do what they do outside the car” and to bring that functionality into the vehicle, he said.

That percentage is going to grow.

IBiquity Digital President/CEO Bob Struble said “We’re getting to a point where if you’re not digital at your station, you’re going to be at a disadvantage,” noting that the new auto infotainment systems just display the call signs of an analog station.

Not everyone is onboard the digital train.

Cherry Creek Radio CEO Joe Schwartz is afraid radio will be split among those stations that can and those that cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on new technology. “It would cost my company in excess of $10 million to go to an HD platform. That is not going to happen.” He knows other small broadcasters “who probably feel the same way.”


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Cherry Creek has >50 stations. Moving AM stations to HD isn't worth it. $5 million is a more realistic for the FM stations. Schwartz doesn't discuss the cost of _NOT_ going HD. Does he want radio to remain relevant? Is he content to have his listeners migrate to Pandora and satellite? Buyers are refusing to buy cars without HD Radios, and will eschew non-HD stations in favor of HD stations.
By Johnny Fry on 9/26/2012

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