Exciting Radio at CES



Radio Heard Here, the national campaign* of which both this blog and RadioCreativeLand are part of, is showing a big presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) right now. There is a vast array of nifty new tech toys being unveiled there as usual, and a lot of them are radio-centric.

FM-equipped mobiles, online radio, tagging, and more are currently making their debut in front of the avid audience of industry people that has descended on Las Vegas. Hardly a surprise with weekly radio listenership topping over 235 million people every week.

Via the Radio Heard Here CES press release:

These advancements in radio technology bridge traditional with digital and connect radio to larger and younger audiences: Features on MP3 players now allow users to tag and purchase songs from FM radio — meaning that new music can not only be discovered, but delivered to your MP3 player at the click of a button; in addition, the advent of downloadable radio applications is turning mobile phones and MP3 players into miniature radio receivers; and HD Radio(TM) is bringing the best in sound quality and content diversity directly to your car radio with features allowing users to tag and purchase songs.

“It’s great to see devices of all sorts incorporating radio — free, broadcast radio — bringing this ubiquitous medium forward into the future,” said David Rehr, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, and head of the industry’s Radio Heard Here campaign. “The industry has embraced online, HD, Wi-Fi and mobile phone technologies and we’re looking forward to seeing bigger strides in 2009.”

I just love this time of year! You might guess from the fact that I am a blogger that I’m really into tech toys and gadgets, so CES is always a blast to watch. Since I am also a radio geek, this year and last have been of particular interest. Last year we saw major advances and price of adoption reduction on HD Radio gear thanks to iBiquity and others. This year it looks like online and mobile are the words du jour.

I’ve already written about several new developments being showcased, including the new Blaupunkt / miRoamer in dash Internet Radio; now I’d like to offer an observation.

Regular readers know that a recurring theme of my writing has been the evolution of radio. As the Internet has evolved away from the desktop, radio has evolved onto the Internet.  It’s fascinating. Three and a half years ago, online radio was limited to a small segment of stations, and even with those it was often simple streaming. Social media was in its infancy so the interactivity level of these early efforts was small. Today, things have changed on a fundamental level.

Smartphones like the iPhone, the Blackberry, and the Treo have uncoupled the Internet from the desktop/laptop. As they have done so, they have brought the ever more sophisticated efforts of traditional radio with them. Radio has always been ubiquitous, the original wireless device. Now that the Internet is following in those footsteps, radio’s level of interaction and reach are expanding exponentially as well.

Three years ago my wife and I were on the run from Hurricane Katrina. We spent six weeks in Bloomington, IN, and Dobbs Ferry, NY. One of the first positive things that happened during our exile was when a New Orleans station started streaming again. That and email were about the extent of things (although we were SO glad to hear voices and music from home). In our more recent adventures fleeing Hurricane Gustav, I was able to use my iPod Touch to hop online and stream radio from New Orleans to stay up to date on things. Radio whose signal had no prayer of reaching me. Once we reached our friends in Ohio, I was able to interact with the online personalities via a range of social media and actually ask question. Even when separated from my laptop.

So yes, I think this is a wonderful direction to see things go in. I just wish I had been able to make it to CES in person.

*Radio Heard Here is a campaign launched by the National Association of Broadcasters, Radio Advertising Bureau and HD Digital Radio Alliance. You can learn more on the About page of this blog and by visiting the Radio Heard Here Website.

Photo courtesy of Tiger Direct TV, used under it’s Creative Commons license


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