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Which Big Radio Groups Are Not Yet Jumping on the HD-R Train?

Scoreboard shows low conversion rates so far at Salem, Multicultural and Spanish Broadcasting among others.

Which of radio’s largest owners have embraced HD Radio? Which have chosen so far to wait on the sidelines?

BIA Financial Network provided statistics for the Radio World HD Radio Scoreboard in our June 4 issue, showing the number and percentage of digital stations operated by the 50 largest U.S. commercial radio groups (ranked by revenue).

The chart shows a noticeable division by group size. Most of the dozen or so biggest companies (though not all) are well along with the HD Radio rollout, with 50% to 80% or even 90% conversion; whereas many companies in the lower half of the big revenue tier tend to be much less far along if they are exploring digital at all.

The largest total number of HD Radio stations on the air are found at Clear Channel (396), CBS (103) and Entercom (62); that parallels BIAfn’s revenue rankings for those companies. Clear Channel’s Aloha Station Trust is listed separately and is fourth in the number of HD Radio stations on the air with 58.

Those four entities are the only owners listed with 50 or more HD Radio stations on the air, though Citadel, Cox and Radio One are each closing in on that number.

But another way to look at the numbers is by percentage. Of groups on the top 50 revenue chart that own more than 20 stations, the highest conversion percentages are found at 11th-ranked Bonneville (89%), 9th-ranked Radio One (87%), 7th-ranked Citadel/ABC (83%), 14th-ranked Greater Media (78%), 25th-ranked ABC/Disney (77%), 13th-ranked Emmis and 2nd-ranked CBS (both 74%). Top-ranked Clear Channel has turned on 54% of its (non-Aloha) stations.

By contrast, large-revenue companies with little or no HD Radio penetration include 15th-ranked Salem (one digital station out of 94 owned, or about 1%), 30th-ranked Multicultural Radio (one station out of 42, or 2%) and 10th-ranked Cumulus (24 on the air out of 290, or 8%) — though the separate, 12th-ranked Cumulus Media Partners is at 67% conversion — while16th-ranked Spanish Broadcasting has converted 10% of its 20 stations.

Nassau Broadcasting has converted only 4% of its 53 stations. Several top-50 owners that have dozens of stations each — including Gap Broadcasting, Three Eagles, Pamal and Max Media — have no stations on the air with digital.

Note that numbers above include both AM and FM stations, and in some cases groups may have HD Radio licenses but not yet be on the air. For the detailed list, see the HD Radio News section of the June 4 issue of Radio World.