NAB Panel Delivers HD Radio Update
April 24, 2006 at 3:58 PM (PT)
The NAB2006 HD RADIO seminar on MONDAY afternoon was optimistically titled "If You Build It, They Will Come," but the title would have been more accurately phrased as "Here's What It'll Cost To Build It and Here's What To Put On It To Convince People To Come."
HD RADIO ALLIANCE Pres./CEO PETER FERRARA moderated the panel, with GREATER MEDIA VP of Engineering MILFORD "SMITTY" SMITH discussing the engineering angle, iBIQUITY SVP/CFO PAT WALSH on the business end (including an overview of the technology and an update on where things stand), and KPWR (POWER 106)/LOS ANGELES PD and EMMIS VP of Programming JIMMY STEAL talking about what's going to be aired on HD secondary channels.
SMITH gave a 15 minute presentation on the "nuts, bolts, and bits" of HD, asserting that HD will assume in the early 21st century the same role FM has now as the dominant transmission scheme. The presentation also addressed the issues of costs and multicasting.
WALSH said that 3,000 stations have committed to HD conversion over the next few years, and reported progress in getting receivers into the pipeline and prices to fall. In response to an audience question, WALSH said that most of the company's R&D money is going to develop chips to allow HD convergence into devices like cell phones. Meanwhile, FERRARA used a comic man-on-the-street video demonstrating low public recognition of HD RADIO to establish why the HD RADIO ALLIANCE is needed.
STEAL's presentation touted the new opportunities for formats arising from multicasting, characterizing programming the new channels as like being "kids in a candy store." He used his own company's HD plans as examples, such as WQHT (HOT 97)/NEW YORK's HD-2 Urban semi-old-school "HOT 97 THROWBACK" format, WLUP/CHICAGO'S HD-2 Active Rock "LOOP LOUD" format, and other EMMIS HD-2 formats like Dance, "Next Generation Alternative," Chill, and Gospel. HD-2 channels are being offered commercial-free for the first 18 months ("we couldn't sell them anyway," FERRARA admitted).