Now that the alliance is established and has strengthened relationships with automakers, receiver manufacturers and retailers, it’s moving into more of a marketing phase — precipitating a change at the top.
As of Jan. 1, Peter Ferrara will step away from the president/chief executive role and Diane Warren, now executive vice president, takes the top job. She had been promoted to EVP from a senior marketing/communication position in January.
Why? Ferrara felt it was “time for a change” and that Warren’s talents are more suited to the new role of the alliance. Peter is staying on as an advisor and says he has other opportunities he’s vetting with investment and technology companies.
When the alliance began in December of 2005, there were 300 stations on-air with IBOC and 40 multicast channels. That’s compared to the 1,750 stations on-air now and 800 multicast signals. The only tabletop HD Radio receiver available in 2005 was the Boston Acoustics Recepter HD for $500. No brick-and-mortar national or regional retailers were selling tabletop HD Radio receivers (although they were selling auto receivers, like the Kenwood). The only way to buy the BA radios was online.
One of the alliance’s greatest challenges was getting automakers to offer HD Radio receivers, said Ferrara. No automakers carried the radios when the group began. Now, 14 OEMs carry them in some 42 models and “there’s more in the pipeline,” although he couldn’t announce who those are.
Alliance member broadcasters would still be committed to funding the group, Peter said, mentioning there will still be ad campaigns promoting HD Radio. Diane Warren said her goals are to keep broadcasters focused, to have engaging ad campaigns and “continue to have that conversation with consumers” as well as be a resource for HD Radio. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
The alliance itself has accomplished a lot with a shoestring budget. Let’s face it: The founding broadcasters have been miserly with the ad dollars for IBOC, giving the group a mix of mostly unsold ad inventory along with some real money to fund the ad campaigns.
Now we’ll see if the stations make a go of IBOC or not.