Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pubcasting and the HD Radio Pretense - Part 2

Who knew my premise would be proven so quickly? Just a few days after posting Pubcasting and the HD Radio Pretense, WGCU in Fort Meyers, Florida, announced they were dropping classical music entirely.

According to NaplesNews.com,
WGCU already moved its classical music programming from FM to its HD-2 radio signal in 2008. The limited broadcast power of its HD signal, however, had left classical music fans in Naples and Marco Island no alternative but to stream it online from the station's website.
As I said in my post, the trend is for public radio stations to shove their classical programming onto an HD2 channel rather than kill it to avoid a sh*tstorm of bad publicity. And that's exactly what WGCU did. At the time, of course, it was represented as simply continuing the service.

And now that another station is broadcasting classical music in the same market (sort of)? WGCU dropped classical like a hot potato, and is introducing a new format.

Now keep in mind, this new format will still have the same dismal over-the-air audience numbers that classical did on the HD2 channel. This decade-old technology has never really gone anywhere. And with the available of streaming Internet audio via smartphones in cars, HD Radio's become irrelevant.

According to the article, the new format will be AAA.
XPoNential Radio is produced by WXPN in Philadelphia. WXPN also produces "The World Cafe," heard on WGCU-FM. [Station General Manager Rick] Johnson said the genre, known as adult album alternative, "opens the door of public radio to a new group of listeners from college students to young professionals [emphasis mine] to children of the 1960s and '70s who will appreciate this eclectic blend of music."
Check that Jacobs Media study of core public radio listeners again. Internet usage is growing, and it's growing among the younger demographic. In reality WGCU probably doesn't care if anyone listens to their HD2 channel -- they're looking to grow their online listenership. And WGCU probably be successful.

I just wish they were a little more honest about the whole thing. According to Johsnon, "This summer WNPS began broadcasting the same classical music programming as heard on our HD radio channel. As public broadcasting, we want to provide listeners with variety and we do not want to duplicate services."

Fair enough. WGCU's trying to follow the money, which -- with public broadcasting under siege -- seems like the responsible thing to do. But why not be totally honest about it?

After all, have you ever known a public radio station to drop Morning Edition or All Things Considered just because another station with some coverage overlap also carried the programs? (In other words, duplicate services?)

Me neither.


  1. Congress initially authorized tens-of-millions for NPR stations to "upgrade" to this junk-technology:


  2. You're correct. Quite a few public radio stations added HD Radio because of CPB grants (which covered most, but not all the cost involved), and WGCU was one of them. And because HD Radio doesn't represent a major investment for the station, it makes it even easier to push undesirable formats onto it.