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Push Intensifies for Stations to Implement Artist Experience

Struble: Market could see cellphone handsets with HD in 2012

Several industry executives are supporting a Ford executive’s push to get stations that air HD Radio to implement Artist Experience, the ability to synch images with the audio. Meanwhile, iBiquity Digital and NAB’s FASTROAD project are working on various aspects of persuading carriers and manufacturers to integrate FM HD chips in cellphones and other mobile devices, and on combining broadcast with IP to work in concert as a backchannel.

Few stations have implemented Artist Experience so far. That’s a problem, according to iBiquity, Ford and several radio group executives whose employers are part of the HD Alliance, because more receivers are coming on the market that promise a richer visual experience.

Several supporters of HD Radio spoke at the Radio Show in Chicago about the need for further uptake of the digital radio technology. “We’ve got to be digital, and everything is headed in that direction,” Cumulus Media President/CEO Lew Dickey said at the Leadership Breakfast during the Radio Show last week. “Penetration takes a long time. Now, it’s incumbent on broadcasters to come together and make sure we have interesting interfaces in the car.”

CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason, who consulted iBiquity for a time on the digital radio technology, said staying analog in the face of a digital dashboard “is like pouring purple paint” on a new car.

On the AE front specifically, the alliance has formed a technology task force, headed by Paul Brenner of Emmis and Glynn Walden of CBS, aimed at determining what member stations need in order to implement HD features supporting Artist Experience — be that the FM power increase, Dynamic Program Service Data or other engineering needs.

Separately, with smaller, less power-consuming HD chips available, iBiquity President/CEO Bob Struble anticipates “multiple handsets” containing HD Radio chips will be available in 2012, he told Radio World during an interview at the show. Artist Experience also is a step towards interactive mobile, said Struble.

The NAB FASTROAD technology advocacy group, meanwhile, is supporting projects “to close the backchannel loop,” he said, to combine aspects of broadcast and IP delivery over mobile handheld and car devices to support interactive ads and other content.

The pitch to carriers: Let radio help your congested wireless networks by off-loading some content onto a radio chip in a mobile device.