IBiquity Digital President/CEO Bob Struble is hammering home to those 2,100-some stations that use HD Radio technology the importance of delivering a consistent user experience.
Specifically, in the latest edition of his regular column, “Thoughts on Radio’s Digital Future,” the leader of the HD Radio technology developer says for stations to successfully compete in today’s digital entertainment world, local broadcast radio must deliver what consumers have come to expect — a reliable “look and feel.”
While he’s made the point before, his tone is becoming more urgent. “We must address this challenge soon, or we will lose a huge opportunity to bolster the industry’s digital future,” writes Struble, noting that the look and feel of music on an iPod, or Pandora and other streamers, or on mobile phone music services or on satellite radio is consistent and fully-featured.
Referring to Artist Experience (AE), the ability to synch audio with album art and associated text, he states new HD Radio receivers that have AE capability are selling, but with few broadcasters delivering advanced features, “consumers are getting a disappointing first experience.”
Invoking the unevenness of radio’s RDS implementation, which Struble says is keeping FM chips out of most cell phones, he cautions the industry not to make the same mistake again with its digital future.
While he acknowledges that getting a consistent experience for scrolling text, music tagging and album cover art will be difficult, he asserts “consumers don’t care if it’s hard, they care about having their expectations met.”
“So we need to get on it, now, because fully featured devices are being sold, now, and consumer impressions are being made, now,” states Struble.