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Smith: Envision Radio on Every Device

At the spring show, NAB leader also highlighted dashboard emphasis

credit: © NABOver several issues, we are reporting trends, news and outcomes from last month’s NAB Show. Here we provide a wrapup of notable headlines as reported at Contributors include Paul McLane, Brett Moss, Emily Reigart, Michael Balderston, Cameron Vigliano, Susan Ashworth, Mike Starling and Paul Kaminski.


NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith told the spring NAB Show that radio’s future lies in being available on every device and making choices that support innovation.

He cited Nielsen research as to how various demographics listen to radio. “Though Boomers, Gen X’ers and Millennials all spend a lot of time listening to radio, a recent Nielsen report notes that ‘Millennials have the greatest mass of listenership.’ Some 66-and-a-half million of them use the radio each week. Radio’s audience continues to evolve, and we must continue to evolve with them.”

Smith noted ongoing efforts to persuade cellular carriers to activate FM reception in smartphones. Such commitments from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will provide more than two-thirds of U.S. mobile phone users with access to FM’s free entertainment and emergency information, he said. “We hope Verizon and others will join them soon.”

He emphasized the importance of “ensuring radio’s rightful place in the automotive dashboard of the future.” He said emphatically: “We know that radio is what drivers want most, and we’ll also ensure that Detroit knows it.”

“The future of radio also hinges on our ability to adapt and innovate, and we continue to fight for policies that enable stations to deliver their content across emerging platforms,” said Smith.

He said that “as a result of NAB’s advocacy,” the Copyright Royalty Board recently reduced rates for radio broadcasters’ streaming services by 32 percent, which Smith called “certainly a move in the right direction.”

“We want reasonable streaming rates that encourage more broadcasters to stream and deliver music in new ways to their listeners.” And he reiterated opposition to any new royalty on over-the-air radio content.


Media usage continues moving to mobile, including smartphones and tablets, as well as TV-connected devices like DVDs, game consoles, multimedia device and VCRs.

So says Nielsen in recently released data. Its latest “comparable metrics” report sets aside metrics associated with a type of content, such as video starts or page views, and instead focuses on concepts applicable to all categories of media measurement: the number of adults who use a given platform or content type in a week; the number of days per week they access the content; and the amount of time they spend engaging with content.

“From November 2014 to November 2015, the total average audience across nearly all platforms grew by nearly 5 million among persons 18+,” it stated. The largest increase in average audience came from smartphones. (Notably, more adults in the age 35–49 bracket use smartphones, tablets and PCs than do adults 18–34.)

Among radio-related findings of the report: More than 90 percent of adults listen to radio each week, including 92 percent of people 18–34.

Adults 18+ spent an average of 12 hours 54 minutes with radio per week, which is still second only to TV; but within the 18–34 demo, smartphone usage per week now exceeds that of radio (11 hours 20 minutes, compared to 10 hours 52 minutes).

The report is available for free download at


At the keynote address of the Broadcast Engineering Conference, NAB Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Sam Matheny asked attendees not to be comfortable with the status quo and accomplishments in broadcasting but to strive to increase innovation.

“I believe it is precisely when we are uncomfortable that we learn and grow the most. We can’t sit idle when we’re uncomfortable. We need to do something about it.”

In that context, Matheny shared the vision statement for the NAB Technology Department: “We improve lives through broadcast technology and broadcaster innovation.” Though much of his talk focused on ATSC 3.0 and television, he pointed to HD Radio as one of the developments it has encouraged.

Matheny honored NAB Vice President for Science and Technology John Marino, who will retire at the end of 2016 after 25 years of service.

“His network of people is simply amazing. To be able to work with John and to learn from him has really been a treat for me. Don’t say goodbye to John, say ‘See you next year.’”

The presentation included a video tribute to the late Ernie Jones, principal of Consolidated Engineering, who died earlier this year. Matheny said Jones’ love for broadcasting was shared. That love drives broadcasters “to be the best, most reliable source of information for the communities, and nations that we serve. It is why we put in the long hours, suffer the details, create, innovate and deliver solutions that matter.”


A phenomenal success story. That’s the assessment of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn about the expansion of the LPFM service.

“As you know, low-power FM radio service was created as a way to serve local and/or underrepresented groups within communities,” she said, according to a text of her prepared remarks. “In just over two years since the LPFM filing window opened, 1,900 construction permits for new LPFM stations have been issued with the expectation that by the end of this year, there will be approximately 2,000 LPFM station operating on the air. This phenomenal success story will result in a diversity of new viewpoints and hyper-local content that is so desperately needed in our country.”

Clyburn, who holds one of the Democratic seats on the commission, also mentioned the FCC’s AM revitalization efforts, which she helped launch.

“AM radio is part of the foundation of our media landscape and has tied communities together for generations,” she said. “It is also one of the more diverse parts of our dial, which is why, since my time as acting chair, I have consistently advocated for actions that provide relief to AM broadcasters.” She said female- and minority-owned stations make up a greater percentage of stations on the AM dial than the FM dial.

More than 600 applications have been filed to relocate FM translators for AM rebroadcast use. “In practice, this means an opportunity to extend programming hours, boost listenership and increase advertiser support.” She said the Media Bureau had granted 80 percent of applications to date.

Clyburn said that the FCC soon will conduct its required review of broadcast ownership rules. “I have never been shy in saying that we need a better, more comprehensive picture of the current state of female and minority ownership.”

She noted that the commission made changes to Form 323, which tracks media ownership. “This order will enable the commission to obtain data reflecting a more useful, accurate and thorough assessment of minority and female broadcast station ownership in the U.S. And importantly for this audience, we adopted some processing changes that will reduce certain filing burdens. This information is critical in measuring the amount of minority ownership across the country.”

At the NRSC meeting: Tim Anderson of Gates Air and Stephen Lockwood of Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers

Two technical documents regarding U.S. digital radio have been updated, including one that clarifies asymmetric sideband power levels for HD Radio.

The Digital Radio Broadcasting Subcommittee of the technical standards-setting National Radio Systems Committee updated guidelines intended to help produce higher-quality digital broadcast signals.

“NRSC-G201-B, NRSC-5 RF Mask Compliance: Measurement Methods and Practice” was developed by the subcommittee’s IBOC Standards Development Working Group, chaired by Dom Bordonaro, chief engineer, Connoisseur Media.

“NRSC-G202-A, FM IBOC Total Digital Sideband Power for Various Configurations” is an aid for engineers involved with FM IBOC facility design, operation and compliance monitoring. The document is a companion to NRSC-G201-B and expands on information in its Annex 1.

The committee stated, “While the refreshes to both documents bring them up to date, this most recent version of NRSC-G201 is significant because it clarifies asymmetric sideband power levels for NRSC-5 IBOC, more commonly known by the DTS brand name HD Radio.” DTS Inc. is the owner of HD Radio technology.

The DRB is co-chaired by Glynn Walden, CBS Radio (retired), and Jackson Wang, CEO, e-Radio USA.

NRSC is co-sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Technology Association.

A demo in the DTS HD Radio booth highlighted an integration of TagStation and Next Radio interactive features into HD Radio with user feedback and action buttons.
Photo by Jim PeckHD RADIO IN 37% OF CARS SOLD

HD Radio parent DTS Inc. says the digital technology was built into 37 percent of cars sold in the United States last year, in 36 vehicle brands and 200+ models. It told attendees that new models coming to market this year with HD Radio receivers include the Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Niro, Toyota Mirai, Toyota 86, Audi R8 Spyder, Lexus LC and Alfa Romeo Giulia. Acura’s NSX will feature DTS Neural Surround technology as well.

The company highlighted new monitors from Inovonics, Belar, Deva, DaySequerra and Audemat to help stations monitor time and level alignment. It also highlighted an FM+ technology demo to promote the capabilities of an enhanced radio experience on mobile devices.

The company’s live monitoring program, announced a year earlier, is now available in the top 50 U.S. markets.

Meanwhile, it said that seven stations in Canada are now broadcasting HD Radio.

Wayne M. PecenaAS FELLOWS

The Society of Broadcast Engineers’ Board of Directors elected three members as SBE fellows: Wayne M. Pecena, Joseph L. Snelson and Jay Adrick.

Fellow is the highest membership level in the society; 75 people have achieved the rank since the organization’s founding five decades ago. Members must be nominated by their peers and have made significant contributions to the broadcast engineering industry and/or the SBE.

Society President Jerry Massey said, “They all possess the skill, attitude, professionalism and dedication to broadcast engineering that is the signature of an SBE Fellow.”

Pecena is assistant director of educational broadcast services in the Office of Information Technology at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas. He has been a member of the SBE since 1978 and has served on its board of directors since 2012, when he was also appointed the chair of the Education Committee. He received the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award in 2014.

Snelson is vice president of engineering for Meredith Corp. in Las Vegas and is immediate past president of the SBE.

Adrick has been an independent broadcast consultant since 2013, when he retired from Harris Broadcast.


Radio World introduced you to the PRSS MetaPub Platform the March 30 preview issue. Now the initiative is partnering with NextRadio. That announcement was made by NextRadio President Paul Brenner and NPR Distribution VP Michael Beach at the NAB Show.

Both organizations have a keen interest in exploring the idea of enhanced radio services.

The Public Radio Satellite System created MetaPub for its market to enhance programming with capabilities for displaying images, text and promo materials. Pubradio biggies NPR, American Public Media and Public Radio International have been involved in its development and supply the metadata that feeds into the system and then to public stations and listeners.

NextRadio is the “hybrid radio” smartphone app from Emmis-backed TagStation, created with partial funding from NAB Labs. It uses cloud services to provide local radio listening using the FM tuning capability in smartphones, enhanced with internet-based features.

In Las Vegas, NextRadio and PRSS said MetaPub will integrate enhanced visual features and information from certain public radio programming into NextRadio. Shows that will serve data include “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Classical 24,” “BBC World Service,” “Weekend Edition Saturday,” “Weekend Edition Sunday” and “Weekend All Things Considered.”

This integration “will allow public radio stations that air national shows to automatically set up the feed directly into NextRadio,” the organizations stated. “The result is a particular program or story enhanced with visual images along with other descriptors such as the title of the show, the topic at hand, the host or other elements.”

They said stations and producers thus will have the opportunity for “increased revenue potential and listener engagement,” as well as the ability to collect listener data via NextRadio app tracking.


Broadcasters need to pay attention to the concepts of choice and control. So said RAIN News Publisher and Founder Kurt Hanson in an address at a RAIN event.

“Disruptive innovation and new business models can improve both business and your own personal success,” he said. Consider the power of the Keurig K-Cup coffee maker, which gives users specific options for coffee choice and brew time. “It’s a way to have increased choice and control of a consumer’s device.”

The same is true in the car.

“That is where [the industry] is headed: an interface where you give consumers more and more control in their audio listening choices,” he said, showing a photo of a connected car with installed Apple CarPlay interface.

Hanson offered a review of audio consumption on AM/FM radio, on-demand music services, online radio and podcasting. Not surprisingly, the smartphone sits at the center of much of that consumption.

The numbers of radios per household is dropping, with one Infinite Dial study reporting that most 18- to 34-year-old radio listeners do not even have a physical radio in their house. But when you look at consumption in terms of devices that can pick up radio, the story is different.

“Smartphones are a truly society- and life-changing thing that has happened in our lifetime.” For tens of millions of people, the smartphone has become their primary radio. “If you count these, the number of devices that can pick up radio stations or online radio is going way up,” he said.

When it comes to next trends, Hanson pointed to potential growth in connected home stereos, in-dash infotainment systems, Bluetooth headphones and voice control.

“When you’ve got connected stereos in your house and voice control in every room, it’s going to change our lifestyle experience,” he said. “And you want to have your brand on those devices if you can.”

But the industry must learn to embrace new, disruptive technologies that may significantly affect existing business plans — for example, he said, the increase in Bluetooth-enabled headphones could be a problem for NextRadio, which uses the headphone cord as its antenna.

Kim Komando

The NAB 2016 Radio Luncheon featured an inspirational keynote by “America’s Digital Goddess,” Kim Komando, host of WestStar Multimedia Entertainment’s “Kim Komando Show.” The show and her daily “Digital Minute” feature are carried on some 450 radio affiliates. She told the audience it took 20 years to reach that milestone.

“Our greatest challenge was to make a humble, little fledgling three-hour weekend radio show into more than just a three-hour weekend radio show,” Komando said.

She had a suggestion for radio stations and show producers: “Your website must offer unique, original engaging content that’s not a repeat of something that you have broadcast earlier, or just a whole bunch of links to other things.”

Each week her show’s website produces more than 150 pieces of unique content.

She recommended that radio stations nourish listener loyalty by being accessible.

“I personally read every email that the listeners send me. As a market manager or VP of programming, do you?”

As for the naysayers who believe radio has seen better days, Komando said, “If you don’t like the conversation that radio is a dying industry, you need to change that conversation by what you say and what you do.”