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What Happens When Your HD2 Dies?

Also, RW's Web Site Now Offers New and Better Tools for Content Discovery, Sharing

You’ve gotta nurture your product. You can’t just slap it up there and expect it to make money for you.

Consistent, high-quality service might not matter much if no one’s listening to your signal, but you’d better pay attention to such considerations if you expect to grow audiences. That’s the rationale behind a story in the HD Radio News section of this issue.

As I noted in a recent RW blog entry, for some time there’s been scant attention given to the question of quality of service on digital broadcasts, particularly multicast channels. I think that’s because most observers believe that few consumers are in a position to be affected, given the number of receivers out there.

But based on anecdotal comments, I think that’s beginning to change.

For instance, one engineer noted on’s Radio-Tech listserv recently, “A few months ago at the public station I worked at, the STL for the HD2 and HD3 locked up on Thanksgiving Day. The studio actually got quite a few calls over it. They had only been on the air at that point for just under two months.” He was echoing a comment from another engineer who’d had a similar experience.

Such remarks were unthinkable not long ago. Yet if there are indeed close to 1 million HD Radio receivers in the national marketplace, as proponents believe, this development should not be surprising. That’s a million folks who have an interest in the quality of your product and not just its existence.

I recall complaints in the early days of RDS, in the 1990s, about stations purported to be on with RDS but that actually not, or that were not keeping their data current and thus were giving a poor first impression of RDS to consumers.

So are we as an industry tending our new HD Radio product once the technology has been put in place?

The public can go to the HD Radio Web site to find a list of digital stations and multicast stations in a market. Is that list current? What is the experience in the field? Are stations actually on? Are multicast channels on? Are there time-alignment issues? Audio processing problems?

We asked engineer Amanda Alexander to drive around Denver to compare published reports of HD Radio broadcast activity, including multicasts and PAD, with her real-world experiences. You can read her report on page 12.

I’m interested in your own observations about digital service in your market. Write to me at [email protected].

* * *

WOR(AM) in New York just aired its first paid text spot on the HD Radio title field.

“Sales and the buyer are all in a quandary about how to price this, as we don’t have any clue how many people are listening on an HD Radio,” Buckley Radio’s VP and corporate DOE Tom Ray tells us. “But it’s a new source of income.” Tom is also an RW contributor.

He said this started with a question from health care supplier Novartis looking to do RDS text ads (itself a notable question).

“The sales person involved and I explained that AM radio doesn’t do RDS, but we do have a text field available on the HD Radio signal,” Tom tells me. “But we have no clue as to how many people are actually listening to WOR in HD Radio.

“The buyer wanted to try it, and we have an actual schedule to air these spots Monday thru Friday through the end of the year. The only real quandary right now is how to price it. Sales is working with the buyer to come up with a mutually agreeable rate.”

As I write, WOR sends “title & artist” information through an interface it had built by a student member of SBE Chapter 15. “It works on a time basis, and we put up the name of the show and the phone number, alternating every so often,” he continues. “Right now, we’re simply running the text spots at fixed times during the correct dayparts. Eventually, I’ll have our ENCO system tie into the HD system and spit out the data. Up to this point, that hasn’t been necessary to do, as with talk radio, well, we don’t have constantly changing title & artist info like music stations do. But if we start doing more of this, we’ll need to tie ENCO in.”

* * *

Radio World seeks to be your preferred resource of industry information. One way we do that is to provide far more stories than any other media in this arena. Now we’ve made it easier to find and share your content with a newly designed Web site; and we continue to add tools to help you stay informed.

Please visit and become familiar with its navigation. As an RW reader, you have access to a great deal of useful material. The layout is different from what you might have been accustomed to on our site, and we hope you find it more intuitive.

For instance, beyond the featured stories on the front page, all articles are published within one or more major categories: News & Technology, Columns, Views, Business, Resources, Awards and Channels.

So your favorite articles by John Bisset, Skip Pizzi and Buc Fitch will be found under Columns; recent news stories are under News & Technology; my column and your letters and guest commentaries are archived under Views; and so forth.

As you move your cursor over those top tier choices, your further selections appear below on a second tier. Tech tips, the latest The Leslie Report, archived Workbench columns. … want to read RW Noticieros, our Spanish-language Newsbytes? You’ll find them here.

A common question is, “How can I find an article I saw recently in print on your Web site?” You can search for it using the Search box. Even if it hasn’t been posted in searchable HTML form yet, though, now you can go find the entire recent issue in digital edition form under the Resources tab of the site — even if it’s not the current issue.

Another request is how to e-mail a story that appears on the site. Now that’s easy; just look for the Story Tool Box, shown here. And as before, you can e-mail from within the digital edition too.

Want to share your thoughts about a given story? Now you can, with the Comment box at the bottom of each page. Respond to a blog entry? You can do that too. Recent blog threads discussed whether you’ll attend the NAB Show, predictions for the coming year from top engineers and the “troubled outlook for cellphones.”

I hope you’ll take part in the conversation.

The author is Editor in Chief of Radio World U.S.