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iHeartRadio Will Support Hybrid Radio in North America

Audi is collaborating with the big audio company; service extends radio coverage beyond OTA footprint

Text has been updated to clarify that the iHeart stations involved are all in the United States.

Hybrid radio is about to take a much bigger place on the American radio stage.

Audi of America announced it is collaborating with iHeartRadio to bring the capability to drivers.

iHeartRadio is rolling out hybrid radio compatibility via approximately 600 of its owned-and-operated stations in the United States.

Hybrid radio allows users to keep listening to favorite stations even when out of range of the signal. It also enables metadata-driven graphics and other capabilities.

Audi is introducing hybrid radio on certain 2021 vehicles, which begin to go on sale in the U.S. this month. The company has been an early advocate for this technology approach.

The details

“Equipped on select 2021 Audi vehicles with the new MIB 3 infotainment suite, Hybrid Radio seamlessly allows listeners with an Audi connect Prime or Plus subscription to switch between broadcast and digital radio signals when they have entered or exited radio signal territories for uninterrupted listening,” Audi announced.

“When the vehicle is cycled off and on again, it is able to retain the radio station, picking up the digital radio channel via internet connection. Collaborating with iHeartRadio brings the experience to life.”

iHeartRadio and Audi announced Hybrid Radio collaboration
An image from an Audi receiver shows available stations. A small box labeled “Web” indicates reception via the WiFi channel instead of OTA.

As Radio World has been reporting, platforms that combine OTA and internet connectivity are starting to take a bigger role in the competitive landscape.

The open standards organization RadioDNS has been active in raising awareness and encouraging adoption of hybrid platforms.

[Related: “Hybrid Radio Picks Up Momentum,” June 2020 overview article}

Getting support from the largest radio company in the country is an obvious big step forward for the hybrid format in the United States.

The announcement was made by Pom Malhotra, director, Connected Services, Audi of America, and Michele Laven, president of Strategic Partnerships Group for iHeartMedia.

Laven was quoted saying, “The innovative functionality Audi is introducing via their Hybrid Radio experience allows yet another way for that companionship to be seamlessly extended beyond the range of the broadcast signal keeping the consumer connected to their favorite station, no matter where the road takes them.”

In the case of these Audi customers, the hybrid platform uses an integrated 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot to maintain a radio station when out of range of the signal.

[Related: “RadioDNS Aims to Establish Metadata Consistency”]