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HD Channels Losing Traction in Tucson?

Media writer says, “Truth is, HD Radio was pretty much obsolete by the time it launched”

A columnist for Tucson Weekly has some hard words concerning the future of HD Radio in that market.

In his Media Watch column, John Schuster laid out a brief history of HD Radio in the area and what he sees as its subsequent failures. You get the gist from the headline: “HD Radio Goes the Way of the Laserdisc Player.”

He focuses on what he sees as the failure of multicasting to take hold in the city. Clear Channel reportedly was the biggest proponent, starting up numerous alternate formats including country, smooth-jazz and a Spanish-language rebroadcast. According to Schuster, only the Spanish rebroadcast is still operational.

The idea was good in theory, Schuster says, but executed poorly. “Clear Channel promoted it, and even put some programming thought behind the decisions, but really did nothing more than flip a switch and let a computer run music.”

Similar efforts made by competitors Cumulus and Lotus quickly were put to bed, he said.

The future, Schuster feels, lies in applications running on mobile phone and tablet computers, such as Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio. But the programming should cater to local content, such as local talk shows and sports teams.

“That local-content component is probably radio’s last chance in terms of unique impact and viability, and it might open the door for advertising opportunities centered not as much on the local customer, but more on tourism-based options for out-of-town visitors.”

HD Radio Goes the Way of the Laserdisc Player