Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Radio Nowhere" and Half-Dead Radio

In my post yesterday, I asked a question:
Something that the radio industry trumpets as its savior is significantly absent from John Amos' essay. Do you know what it is?
John Amos, in his essay "Radio Nowhere" talked about the changing (for the worse) face of radio from a listener's perspective.

The subject was commerical radio, but he mentioned many other listening alternatives. Amos talks about:

National Public Radio
community radio
satellite radio
Internet radio

He talks a lot about content, and about the role local radio played in his life. But there's something missing from Amos' essay.

Have you figured it out?

There's no mention about the importance of sound fidelity, and no mention of HD Radio.

The listener is more concerned about the quality of the content than the amount of static in the signal.

According to the HD Radio Alliance,
It’s the most significant advancement in radio broadcasting since the introduction of FM stereo more than 50 years ago. HD Radio technology enables AM and FM radio stations to broadcast their programs digitally – a tremendous technological leap from the analog broadcasts of the past.
Yet in the cold light of day,

...some hard numbers on HD radio sales: 330,000 sold in 2007, up from 40,000 receivers in 2006.

Spin this any way you like, the reality is that these are low numbers, particularly after hundreds of millions of dollars of radio promotion provided gratis.

Indeed, by this time next year, there will be more HD radios in the U.S. than Ham Radios.

One day the radio industry will awaken to realize that inventing a new channel of distribution in a sea of already popular distribution channels is no pathway to the future.

Particularly not if the consumer has already spoken. - Mark Ramsey

And in John Amos' case, the consumer has spoken -- by not speaking about it at all.

- Ralph


  1. What do you think of the Charlottesville market? I'm amazed at how much local programming is here, and how much a role it can play in the community debate.

    In particular, I'd like to know what you both think of Jerry Miller's Sports Rap on 1400 WCAV. Airs 3 to 5 every day, and is one of the most engaging pieces of local radio I've ever heard.

    Not meant to be a thread-jack, but as an example of what local stations will have to do to survive and thrive.

  2. Sean:

    Don't worry about being a thread-jack -- if you bring up a different subject, I'll use it as the subject of a new post!

    I haven't talked much about the Charlottesville market, in part because I'm sort of a part of it (OK, being on WTJU makes it a VERY small part).

    I'm afraid I haven't heard Jerry Miller's Sports Rap. I very seldom get to listen to the radio at that time of day, and sports is one of the subjects I'm almost completely apathetic about.

    Nevertheless, you've asked a good question, so I'll explore it and report back on my reactions.

    - Ralph