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Ford Engineer Cautions Radio to Stay Relevant in Evolving Digital Dash

Ford to be one of six cars displayed featuring HD Radio at Radio Show

An engineer at Ford who decides much of what goes into the dashboard at the automaker encourages broadcasters to embrace all the features of HD Radio to remain relevant in the evolving digital center stack.

Jim Buczkowski is a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and director of Electrical and Electronic Systems Research and Innovation for the car manufacturer. In a letter to the industry, he writes “AM/FM now competes with … music and talk radio sources in the car like Pandora, Spotify, Music Unlimited, Slacker, Stitcher, iHeartRadio. Many of these new offerings are being driven by the popularity and pervasiveness of ‘apps’ which are accelerating the pace of change and the pace that new forms of entertainment are brought to customers.”

Ford Sync integrates all the digital systems its customers want in one place, Buczkowski writes, adding that “virtually all car makers have embraced the integrated digital media platform.”

Consumers have come to expect the same consistent “look and feel” from their in-car media experience as they experience with their iPods, smartphones, Internet radio and other digital technology, he writes.

iBiquity Digital SVP Marketing Steven Baldacci characterizes Buczkowski as “the guy who decides where radio is in the pecking order of entertainment features” at Ford and adds that “these are the features that he expects to see.” IBiquity distributed the letter.

Buczkowski’s comments echo that of iBiquity President/CEO Bob Struble, who has also urged stations to implement HD Radio data features, and especially iTunes Tagging and Artist Experience. “Radio advertisers want interactive engagement with consumers,” Baldacci told Radio World.

At the upcoming Radio Show, iBiquity plans to display six cars featuring HD Radio receivers from automakers such as Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Volvo and Volkswagen.

— Leslie Stimson