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RDS Garners Praise, Safety Concerns

RDS Garners Praise, Safety Concerns

The general press is catching on to the latest radio tech trend, which isn’t really new at all.
RDS, the technology that lets receivers scroll station call letters and song names, among other functions, has, as already reported here, been on the rebound in recent months, a decade after it was introduced in this country.
The New York Times now is giving the technology quite a bit of ink. For example, the newspaper ran a Jan. 1 story about the increasing use of RDS at stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, Entercom, Infinity Broadcasting, Cumulus Media and others.
“Automakers are increasingly likely to include RDS-capable radios in new cars,” it summarized. “The technology is standard equipment on all Lexus and BMW models, and either standard or an option on many Ford, Chrysler and Toyota cars with high-end sound systems. General Motors estimates that at least half of the cars it ships to dealers have RDS radios. Even some models of table radios and stereo tuners are incorporating RDS displays.”
The Times story includes quotes from officials of suppliers like Dmarc Networks and The Radio Experience, as well as Tom McGinley, a Radio World technical advisor and the director of engineering for five Infinity stations in Seattle.
A day earlier, the Times ran a separate story about RDS, including its appeal as a new revenue stream and concerns over possible driver distraction. It quoted consumer advocate Ralph Nader saying, “All these kinds of distraction add up to the following: the driver is paying more attention to the inside of the vehicle than the dynamics outside.” Another critic called text ads “the newest invasion of ad creep.”
As an example of how RDS is being used, the Times reported that a bank in North Carolina will use RDS text messages in its next radio campaign on the urging of its ad agency.