Our latest ebook is “Today’s In-Car HD Radio Experience.” It provides a visual walkthrough of how digital and analog stations appear in numerous 2019 car models.
Radio World and Xperi, sponsor of the ebook and parent of HD Radio, decided to put images of receivers tuned to various stations in various cars side by side. Although we talk often about the importance of knowing how your station is experienced by listeners, few radio managers in fact have really had a chance to take a comprehensive look at how their digital or analog stations are displayed today.
I found the process even more instructive than I’d expected. Flipping through the photos leads me to a few obvious takeaways, and they’re not just limited to HD Radio considerations.
It’s clear to me that:
- For a driver, the experience of finding and tuning into a radio station is far different today than it was even a few years ago.
- The context in which radio stations today are heard — and seen — varies greatly from carmaker to carmaker.
- Radio stations have worried about becoming “just another icon” among dozens of choices on car screens. It’s a valid concern, but I was pleased to see that FM radio is still prominent in most of these models, and that AM, when still provided, is easy to find too.
- However, radio industry leaders must continue to invest time and effort building relationships with car companies in hopes of retaining the highest possible profile on these platforms.
- HD Radio stations show up better than analog ones on today’s displays.
- But whether or not your station has chosen to broadcast in HD Radio, you and your management really can’t judge how the station is being seen by your listeners without sitting in front of a lot of different dashboards. Engineers and GMs should be visiting local car dealers together and asking to sit in front of various displays. (Make it part of a station sales call at the dealer.)
- Radio stations, analog or digital, must pay close attention to what they’re sending via their digital or analog data platforms. Longtime readers have heard Radio World preach about this since the earliest days of RDS. Who in your operation is assigned to establish and monitor how you appear to the public?
- HD Radio stations should consider whether they’re taking full advantage of the features that the platform offers. At least be aware of the various ways that your branding, show and talent names, station URL and logos can be displayed and combined.
- If you have invested in HD Radio, the issue of whether to add Artist Experience seems like a no-brainer. The engineering section of HDRadio.com has papers on how to implement AE. Xperi reminds stations that they also can use the feature to pair client logos with their on-air promos as a revenue generator.
None of this discussion gets into questions of reception quality, but if you are already an HD Radio station, remember, too, that for your listeners to have the best audio experience, your station needs to pay close attention to its time and level alignment. If you need guidance on that, check out the current National Radio Systems Committee’s guideline on that very topic.