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Are HD2 Channels Compelling?

One PD says no one listens. WTOP’s Farley says more HD Radio receivers are coming to cars.

Is anyone listening to HD2 channels?

Panelists taking part in a session on the future of radio during the Jacobs Media Summit in Baltimore this week debated that question.

WMMR(FM), Philadelphia PD Bill Weston said his station does stream and HD2 channel “which nobody listens to.”

Media UK Managing Director James Cridland said he found that statement amazing. “That’s not saying HD’s s**t. That’s saying your channel’s s**t,” meaning the programming.

When DAB was launched in the U.K., he noted, stations promoted the improved audio quality that the new signal would have. “Nobody cares because FM sounds fine,” said Cridland.

With the relaunch of DAB, stations have extended their brands on their digital channels, using them to play different music than what they air on their analog stations. “They can earn twice the amount of money from their ads as they had in the past,” according to Cridland.

“Don’t write off HD Radio yet,” WTOP(AM/FM), Washington, DC VP News and Programming Jim Farley said. IBiquity Digital has done deals with so many automakers that “It’s coming.” He explained, “Those apps in the dashboard saved radio’s ass. We wouldn’t be there were it not for HD Radio,” meaning a presence on the newer, larger and more interactive in-dash entertainment systems like Ford Sync, Toyota Entune and now, Cadillac CUE.

— Leslie Stimson