HD Radio Extends Its Reach

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As the youngest sibling in the radio family, HD radio is still finding its feet in the media market. We are only starting to discover the interesting new ways to implement its unique capabilities, especially multicast. Multicast basically allows HD stations to provide sub-channels with additional content for their listeners. Sometimes it will be a music format such as bluegrass, sometimes just an expanded version of normal programming.  Now it seems that CBS Radio has come up with a new take on how to leverage that quality.

According to an announcement made by CBS last Friday, four of their most popular stations will soon be offered outside of their normal markets via HD multicast channels. Included in this pilot program will be the following:

  • WFAN-AM (Sportsradio 66 The Fan)/New York will broadcast sports programming on WOCL-FM HD3 (105.9)/Orlando, WLLD-FM HD3 (94.1)/Tampa and WEAT-FM HD3 (104.3)/West Palm Beach.
  • Alternative KROQ-FM/Los Angeles will be carried in the San Diego area via KSCF-FM HD2 (103.7).
  • KSCF-FM (Sophie @103.7) is now available to Los Angeles audiences via KAMP-FM HD2 (97.1).
  • Next month, WBZ-FM, The Sports Hub, will be available on Hartford based WTIC-FM HD3 (96.5).

Now we shall see how well the original programming scales. Will it be able to be competitive in the new markets? Could be. While localism is an important facet of radio strategy as we move forward, I have a feeling this approach could also yield results. It all comes down to providing engaging content for your audience, and I believe there is room for — and need for — both tactics.

Radio Business Report (RBR-TVBR) is always good for a bit of commentary, and their traditional “observation” on this subject is a fine one:

This should be studied—for ad sales. While some may say this is just another reason HD Radio is underperforming in many markets and that they should be programming and marketing new local format ideas, in reality, this may be very sell-able in these other markets. With HD Radio multicast channels, if you can come up with a way to monetize them, do it. We’re all still in the experimental phase here, and this is a great way to test if “super stations” from other markets can be sold locally in others.

It’s great to see companies beginning to explore the possibilities offered by HD. The capabilities of multicast in particular are very exciting because it allows and encourages experimentation with niche formats and syndication opportunities like this one.

What interesting or “out of the box” uses for HD can you think of?

Image: HD Radio Logo / Fair Use: Reporting

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