Embrace the Technology

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Regular readers will recall the post I did back on April 8 about Clear Channel’s introduction of iTunes tagging capabilities to the newest generation of HD Radios. Now, a month and a half later, the subject comes up once more now that the non-radio mainstream media begins to take notice of this and other innovative efforts being made as radio embraces the new technologies available to it.

This excerpt is from a piece written by Mark Basch of The Times-Union (via Jacksonville.com):

[…] industry executives say Americans still want to listen to the radio. And rather than fear threats from new technology, the industry is looking to use the technology to improve its product.

“We found out [from consumer surveys] people love radio. But it’s free and so accessible, they take it for granted,” said David Rehr, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, a trade association that represents 8,300 radio and television stations.

“We’re the technology that’s been around for a long time,” he said.

The NAB and several other industry groups banded together last month to start a new promotional program called “Radio Heard Here,” which they hope will change perceptions that radio is a tired old medium.

“We’ve got to push forward. We’ve got to be about tomorrow,” Rehr said.

While it is nice to see some press for our sister project, Radio Heard Here, what I really enjoyed about this article was the fact that it boiled down a lot of info about HD Radio into a form that is easy for those unfamiliar with it to digest. A very nice starting point for people who are just beginning to develop an interest in this young and growing medium.

It touches on many topics I have already posted about here on the Radio2020 blog such as HD’s ability to send out complementary content on their HD stream enhancing the offerings of their original station, or the aforementioned (and quite welcome) integration of iTunes tagging capabilities. One thing I was disappointed to see left out of the feature was the new generation of equipment debuted at the NAB show. It’s HD Equipment that drastically reduces the entry level cost of embracing HD on the station’s side.

While the number of current listeners is comparatively small at this point (the Basch articles quotes 12% of Americans as having listened to it), this aspect is a vital part of the equation. Up until now the listener base has been limited by the number of stations actually broadcasting in HD. The drastic reduction in the cost of embracing HD should provide impetus for ongoing expansion into the medium, increasing audience share in the process.

Basch goes on to provide thumbnail examinations of a variety of industry efforts, and even notes a detail often neglected when people speak of shrinking ad revenues:

Radio industry revenues were down in 2007, according to BIA Financial Network, a media consulting firm. But BIA said the 2.3 percent drop last year was due to the economy, and expects industry revenue to recover when the economy turns around.

“Radio is absolutely still a very viable medium for advertisers,” said Mark Schwartz, a former radio executive who now runs Jacksonville advertising firm Mark Schwartz & Co.

“We have some clients that all they do is radio,” he said.

Photo courtesy of jstick80, used under its Creative Commons license

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