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AG News: 3/14/2006

HD Radio - Making Noise, But Can't Be Found

A certain amount of frustration comes with these words. It started after I began looking for something positive to write about HD Radio; or, more precisely, after I began looking for an HD Radio program to list here, hoping to show how this "new" radio is delivering on promises.

One of the benefits of being online is that you're not limited to articles. The written word can be accompanied by audio or video. If you glance to the side column on any Audio Graphics page, you'll see a listing of "Click To Listen" programs that are there for you to enjoy. These are usually changed weekly and, today, I wanted to include an HD Radio program. That was, until two hours of searching passed with no results.

While there are dozens of NPR HD programs available, featuring another NPR-produced program wasn't in the plan today. Instead, I looked for programs from another provider. Anyone other than Clear Channel would do, because that company's list of HD radio stations was featured here only a couple of weeks ago.

What began as a simple search turned into a drawn-out failure. After stumbling around online it was evident that to hear HD Radio from any other source would require my purchasing a receiver. No search that I did brought up a listing of an online stream of HD Radio. It did lead me to plenty of web sites that had stations reportedly broadcasting in HD, but none of these actually had their HD signal online to sample.

The more I dug, the less I got. Which brings up a fundamental question of marketing: Is it out of line to expect a new product to produce samples before it expects consumers to purchase the product?

HD Radio has been making plenty of noise lately. That (in this day of immediate gratification) the HD Radio Alliance would fail to have a place where consumers could sample programs online is something that just seems a mistake. That this "online" place would not be returned within the top spots on search engines, when using keywords like "HD Radio Stations", is a clear indication that HD is not as technically advanced as it claims to be. A few search engine returns even led to dead links (for ex., WOR HD).

Do your own search on Google, Yahoo! or MSN Search, but start here:, How Does HD Digital Radio™ Sound? - where you'd expect a sampling before they expect you to drop $300 on an unproven radio receiver. Instead of providing links to the "over 700 stations" reported to be broadcasting in HD, you're handed a list of links that repeat (essentially) the same words in a 30-second audio presentation that's laid across 11 different formats.

CBS Radio is a classic example of not understanding online. At its page, you can find a long list of stations, with no links. Duh!

HD Radio is in the fight for/of its life. It doesn't take more than common sense to realize you need to provide consumers with product samples online to increase demand. It's sad to think that they've misjudged the need to lure consumers with these sample programs.

But then, it's already a given that getting HD radio into vehicles is going to prove more difficult than leaders of the "HD Revolution" have judged. So far, their track record is less than spectacular.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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