Most Americans Still Unfamiliar with HD Radio - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 47 Old 01-21-2012, 05:40 AM - Thread Starter
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54 percent of 18- to 64-year-olds have "heard of" HD Radio, which is down from 67 percent in a 2008 study. Included in that 54 percent, however, are 16 percent who have only heard of HD Radio and don't know anything about it.

http://www.fmqb.com/article.asp?id=2377010

I still say radio needs to employ a model similar to the one used by ESPN. They created demand for ESPN-2, ESPN-U, etc by constantly reminding viewers of the main what they were missing by not having it. They just put the (frequently redundant or lame) programming on hope people will find it.

The Radio Coalition ads were also a complete waste of time in that - by nature of the coalition - they couldn't promote any specific programming. How easy would it be to go on the air and say, "Keith Urban's new album is being played in its entirety at noon, six and ten on WXXX-HD2. If you don't have an HD Radio, GET ONE!!"

But nobody does that.

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post #2 of 47 Old 01-22-2012, 07:43 AM
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I can't even get our people to put a mention of it under the big "DuraTrans" posters in our lobby.

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post #3 of 47 Old 01-22-2012, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow. At least we banner ours on the website. We even have physical banners that promotions periodically puts up various places. Generally, that seems to help streaming more than HD subchannel listening, though. Gonna be hard to quantify HD listening until someone with a PPM buys a car equipped with it. That's starting to happen. Already heard from one listener who said, "Did you know there's another country station on your channel?" I had to ask her to be more specific, since WGAR gets into our coverage area frequently.

And one in-the-wild experience. Girl filling up at a gas station last summer left her radio on. It was set to our Spanish subchannel. I jumped back into my truck and flipped mine on just to make sure.

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post #4 of 47 Old 01-22-2012, 06:52 PM
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It's not your fault. HD radio (the biggest misnomer in current history) is being improperly used by many, and iBiquity is killing themselves. IBOC is a solution waiting for a problem, much like DTV was.

The content on most HD2 stations is garbage, PDs spend MAYBE 10 minutes a week programming it, it's not very fresh unless they're testing a new format they're flipping onto the analog station, etc.

Cars equipped with it are usually really bad stock radios to begin with, and will probably get changed out anyways... The aftermarket solutions are horrid, you have to either buy a tabletop radio (what?!) or spend $1k on an AVR to get an HD radio standard. And the companies pushing them aren't exactly things that come to the front of mind. Insignia? Nope. Sangean? Who? Etc... If you want widespread adoption, you need to be in the 100-200 dollar pioneer and kenwood car stereos (standard, not an additional $200 box!), the 300-500 dollar HTiBs and AVRs, again, standard, not an add-on. You really want adoption? Get apple to stick it in an iPod. (never happen)

Many stations are turning them off just to save money on the power bill. It's not really that great of a technology unfortunately. iBiquity is killing it themselves.

Sad truths, aren't they?
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post #5 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

It's not your fault. HD radio (the biggest misnomer in current history) is being improperly used by many, and iBiquity is killing themselves. IBOC is a solution waiting for a problem, much like DTV was.

DTV did provide something analog signals couldn't. And that was HD. Oh sure, the original HD broadcasts in Japan were in analog. But it turned out to be impractical and so HD went digital.

As far as HD radio is concerned, I still don't really get it and neither do most other people. There is so much garbage on the AM/FM analog bands, that a new tech that is mostly doing the "same old, same old" programing doesn't make much sense. Instead of investing in HD technology, invest in making the existing product better.
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post #6 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

The content on most HD2 stations is garbage, PDs spend MAYBE 10 minutes a week programming it, it's not very fresh unless they're testing a new format they're flipping onto the analog station, etc.

The content on most radio stations is garbage. At least some HD-2 stations here provide unique garbage.

Our local hip-hop station has just added a dance format on their HD-2 that includes several genres popular with kids these days including some dance remixes of popular songs that have been driven into the ground by other stations. The guy in charge of it says it's programmed daily.

There is a blues HD-2 station that fearlessly plays the entire history of blues, from Bessie Smith to Louis Jordan to Keb' Mo'.

There is still an HD-2 station that features recordings by Pacific Northwest artists.

Unfortunately there is a lot of wasted HD-2 stations. As I mentioned before, at least two are nothing but STLs to analog FM transmitters and serve no purpose for listeners. Others have formats that are little different from their analog stations or other analog stations in the area.

Our last 96 kbps station sold out and got an HD-2. Their HD-1 now sounds almost identical to their analog broadcast. This is very sad because hearing the incredible increase in quality of full bit rate HD Radio was always amazing no matter how many times I heard it.

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post #7 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

Wow. At least we banner ours on the website. We even have physical banners that promotions periodically puts up various places.

In the early 2000's, most of our local television stations were broadcasting OTA in HD. They said so on the air and even said which (temporary UHF) channel was broadcasting HD. Despite this, I could not convince most of my coworkers that HDTV even existed, much less that it was available for free.

The stores were not full of cheap wide screen televisions like they are now so I guess people were assuming it was an temporary experimental thing that could go away tomorrow. It seemed like it might if nerds like us weren't even watching it.

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post #8 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Heck, you couldn't convince TV stations that HD was for real. I recall one affiliate that did a multi-million-dollar complete studio build starting in '03. New building, new switchers, new servers, new everything. You can guess the rest. Almost none of it was HD despite the screaming of the chief engineer (friend of mine). One slave switcher that ran the digital air chain would take the HD network feed when master control took the network. Any other time, it would default to the analog chain. That was it. Less than five years after completion, there they were, ripping it all out and doing it over, again. With no buyers for the nearly-new gear they were chucking.

But I digress..

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post #9 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

Heck, you couldn't convince TV stations that HD was for real. I recall one affiliate that did a multi-million-dollar complete studio build starting in '03. New building, new switchers, new servers, new everything. You can guess the rest. Almost none of it was HD despite the screaming of the chief engineer (friend of mine). One slave switcher that ran the digital air chain would take the HD network feed when master control took the network. Any other time, it would default to the analog chain. That was it. Less than five years after completion, there they were, ripping it all out and doing it over, again. With no buyers for the nearly-new gear they were chucking.

But I digress..


And I bet this station is one of those screaming about re-trans fees from pay-tv providers who are stealing money from them.
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post #10 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 04:04 PM
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Maybe HD radio is like Soccer to Americans.
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post #11 of 47 Old 02-01-2012, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

Maybe HD radio is like Soccer to Americans.

If it were, every elementary school kid would have one.

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post #12 of 47 Old 02-02-2012, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

One slave switcher that ran the digital air chain would take the HD network feed when master control took the network. Any other time, it would default to the analog chain. That was it.

Well... that's all you need, right?

Our Fox affiliate still can't do this right. When they cut into network programming to promote their local news, we always see a screen full of garbage macroblocks for a second and another spray of garbage macroblocks when they switch back to the network. Apparently they're using a toggle switch.

On the radio front, a couple of local stations have finally replaced all of their old MP2 encoded audio files with either PCM files, lossless compressed files (like FLAC) or at worst high bit rate MP3 files. They discovered that some of the MP2 files they had been playing had bit rates as low as 96 kbps, much lower than the minimum 192 kbps recommended for stereo files for that old codec. Also these files had everything above 15 kHz cut off since they were intended for analog FM broadcast anyway.

This was not initiated by management. It was done by DJs in their spare time, bringing in CDs from their own collections and reencoding them. They couldn't stand hearing these awful encodes any more and they sounded extra terrible on their digital stations.

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post #13 of 47 Old 02-04-2012, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

Heck, you couldn't convince TV stations that HD was for real. I recall one affiliate that did a multi-million-dollar complete studio build starting in '03. New building, new switchers, new servers, new everything. You can guess the rest. Almost none of it was HD despite the screaming of the chief engineer (friend of mine). One slave switcher that ran the digital air chain would take the HD network feed when master control took the network. Any other time, it would default to the analog chain. That was it. Less than five years after completion, there they were, ripping it all out and doing it over, again. With no buyers for the nearly-new gear they were chucking.

But I digress..

which detroit station was that?....
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post #14 of 47 Old 02-04-2012, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post
Maybe HD radio is like Soccer to Americans.


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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

If it were, every elementary school kid would have one.

and drop it due to it's "uncoolness" by the time they turn 20.....
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post #15 of 47 Old 02-04-2012, 03:51 PM
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as long as stations (like they tried to in Detroit) would rather get a translator (with less than full market coverage) cluttering up the FM band for HD-2/3 stations, then I am saddened to think that HD radio is just a niche fad....
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post #16 of 47 Old 02-05-2012, 06:14 AM
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It makes me wonder with all of the radio stations that have commited with new transmitting equipment and this is not catching on to the majority of people what will they do?
Is it as easy as turning off the additional stations and just dedicating the full BW to the primary one?

What kind of expense did it take to convert?
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post #17 of 47 Old 02-05-2012, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, the initial expense was long-ago absorbed for most. Now it's just a matter of licensing fees (music and technology). For us, it's not much of an expense to just let it keep running. And one of our subchannels (Latin music) is paying its own freight and then some. It makes enough to pay the licensing fees and cover the salary of a full-time program director. There's no real maintenance, labor costs or anything else, so might as well let it run and see what happens as all the new HD-equipped cars start penetrating the market. It's really the same as with FM. Automated jukeboxes ran unattended for decades before there were enough radios in the marketplace to try going live with one.

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post #18 of 47 Old 02-05-2012, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

which detroit station was that?....

I didn't say it was a Detroit station. Ohio. I'm acquainted with a lot of staffers from a lot of stations around the country. Granted, most of them are janitorial, but...

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post #19 of 47 Old 02-05-2012, 08:37 AM
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Is HD radio anything that I would want ?
I don't even listen to FM anymore..
FM is all elevator music to me in these Modern Days we all live in , So what can HD radio offer that is any better ?
Of the last 3 AVR's I've owned ,I never even hooked up the FM antenna..
these days all I listen to on FM in the car is the local KCBS (a AM radio station) that sounds better on FM for traffic/news in the SF Bay Area..
Yeah I'm a person who has no Idea what HD radio is & really don't know if I want to know ..

Mike

JAZZ IS NOT DEAD IT JUST SMELLS FUNNY ; FRANK ZAPPA
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post #20 of 47 Old 02-05-2012, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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You can go to www.hdradio.com and see what the stations in your area are programming. Or check their websites or call and ask. If something there piques your interest, then decide. But if your market is only playing elevator music on FM, then I kind of doubt it'll be much different on their subchannels. Strangely, I didn't know any market outside of Florida still HAD elevator music on FM. Here, we have country, pop, rock, adult contemporary, hip-hop, sports and oldies. On HD subchannels, you can add Latin, all 60s, all news, conservative talk, local rock, jazz, classic rock album tracks and New Age talkradio (psychics and such). My HD radio spends most of the time on the jazz or the deep tracks rock station as they're both things I enjoy and neither is running any commercials. I'll hit the New Age talk, sometimes, because I know the midday psychic and she's always interesting and fascinating.

Your situation may vary.

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post #21 of 47 Old 02-05-2012, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

You can go to www.hdradio.com and see what the stations in your area are programming. Or check their websites or call and ask. If something there piques your interest, then decide. But if your market is only playing elevator music on FM, then I kind of doubt it'll be much different on their subchannels. Strangely, I didn't know any market outside of Florida still HAD elevator music on FM. Here, we have country, pop, rock, adult contemporary, hip-hop, sports and oldies. On HD subchannels, you can add Latin, all 60s, all news, conservative talk, local rock, jazz, classic rock album tracks and New Age talkradio (psychics and such). My HD radio spends most of the time on the jazz or the deep tracks rock station as they're both things I enjoy and neither is running any commercials. I'll hit the New Age talk, sometimes, because I know the midday psychic and she's always interesting and fascinating.

Your situation may vary.

maybe I was a little harsh to call all FM elevator music here in the SF Bay Area ,
but that's just what it seems to me over what FM used to be .
Thanx for the link ..maybe I need a re-education ....

Mike

JAZZ IS NOT DEAD IT JUST SMELLS FUNNY ; FRANK ZAPPA
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post #22 of 47 Old 02-06-2012, 10:09 AM
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Well, the initial expense was long-ago absorbed for most. Now it's just a matter of licensing fees (music and technology). For us, it's not much of an expense to just let it keep running.

What about electricity? For one of our community stations, the power bill for their HD Radio transmitter completely blew their small budget the first year. They say they could have hired a part time employee with that money.

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post #23 of 47 Old 02-06-2012, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm thinking they don't pay very much
Or they've landed on a handy excuse. For a community station running a main at 3kw, I'd have to think a 30-watt digital injector is going to eat enough power that you could hire 1 guy to work about 10 - 15 hours a week at minimum wage. Guess I could ask. Ours are kind of negligible, but then we have a whopping power bill to start with with 6 studios, a business office, a server farm, two 20kw transmitters running full time and one sitting hot standby.

I'm not exactly sure how digital broadcasting benefits a community FM, anyway. Not until there's widespread acceptance. I do see a benefit to a lot of NPR stations as they can finally keep more donors happy. Classical? We got that. NPR? We got that. Serving the Latino community? Yeah, we have Spanish programming. And it's all on at the same time. So, you can hear "Click and Clack" or the Metropolitan Opera. They're on at the same time along with live coverage of the school's tennis tournament.

Don't laugh. I've actually done tennis on the radio.

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post #24 of 47 Old 02-06-2012, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

I didn't say it was a Detroit station. Ohio. I'm acquainted with a lot of staffers from a lot of stations around the country. Granted, most of them are janitorial, but...


lol
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post #25 of 47 Old 02-07-2012, 02:37 AM
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Quote:
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Our Fox affiliate still can't do this right. When they cut into network programming to promote their local news, we always see a screen full of garbage macroblocks for a second and another spray of garbage macroblocks when they switch back to the network. Apparently they're using a toggle switch.

They're running an incorrectly setup Fox Splicer (Probably made a change to the program stream and never informed Fox TOC of it...). Every Fox affiliate in the US, including mine, uses the exact same piece of gear to go in and out of network. We don't have any pixelization on ours.

Back on topic, around where I am, I'd say 50% of the HD stations which were on, under Citadel, have been shut off, and have never returned since.
The stations still do HD legal IDs but they're not running HD.

The HD2s in the market from the CC stations here are Smooth Jazz, Alternative Rock, and Classic Rock. The three are Clear Channel's
premium choice product, which isn't half bad. Some banter, imaging,
and music intensive programming. I listen to the Alt Rock one off and on,
when the mood hits.

I think the big issue is, the promotion sucks for it. People don't know about it because of the way it's been promoted. The "station between the stations" gimmick was a real winner. The primary stations need to run a "taste of the HD2" type thing on a slower weekend, put the HD2 on the main for a weekend, tease the listeners with what they can get. The problem is , for radio people, especially in this still poor economy, is there is no ROI on HD radio yet (Unless youre an AM simulcast or doing a translator feed), so it's a tough sell.


And I am sorry to those here who are fans of it, but can we finally kill AM HD all ready? Use the money spent on AM HD towards FM HD improvements instead? Outside of one radio disney station in Boston, I have yet to hear AM HD which sounds good to me. It's just too artifical sounding.

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Note: opinions and advice given here are mine and mine only.
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post #26 of 47 Old 02-07-2012, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

I'm thinking they don't pay very much
Or they've landed on a handy excuse. For a community station running a main at 3kw, I'd have to think a 30-watt digital injector is going to eat enough power that you could hire 1 guy to work about 10 - 15 hours a week at minimum wage.

This station is 26.5 kW so that's some more money.

Quote:


I'm not exactly sure how digital broadcasting benefits a community FM, anyway. Not until there's widespread acceptance.

Maybe they're hoping to sell STL services on their HD-2 like other stations are doing around here. This has gotten kind of ridiculous. A non-profit AM station is using the HD-2 of a 22.5 kW station to feed an FM translator that puts out a few watts. This effectively gives the AM station two FM stations.

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post #27 of 47 Old 02-07-2012, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Stuff like that happened in the early days of FM, too. First AM station I worked at used the FM as its backup STL. If someone cut through the phone lines (and it happened), we'd run into the FM, stop the automation and patch AMCR OUT to FMXT IN. Run back to the AM and hit "12 DOWN" on the remote control. Boom. Back on the air. Assuming the last guy to go to the AM transmitter site didn't dial up some other station on the FM tuner, that is... And, yeah, that happened, too.

Damn, I'm old.

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post #28 of 47 Old 02-08-2012, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
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Stuff like that happened in the early days of FM, too.

Some radio people around here are quietly grumbling that a station licensed to the AM band is nudging their way into the more desirable FM band by the FCC allowing them to use FM translators and other station's HD-2 channels. The FM translators are broadcasting the station in stereo via other station's HD-2 which is providing a radio service that the main AM station doesn't provide.

A few people (mainly listeners like me) feel that this is a waste of HD-2 channels. We already have two analog FM stations that are duplicated on HD-2 channels. These do not provide me, the listener, more variety on my radio which is what they were for (or so I thought).

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post #29 of 47 Old 02-08-2012, 11:49 AM
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Yes, we all pretty much remember the bad old days of FM being AM simulcasts. The thing is radio, either AM or FM didn't have much competition for mobile entertainment back then. Times are totally different nowadays and if HD radio doesn't become mainstream soon, even less people than current do, will care. I've commented before in this forum about HD, and all radio in general, needing to improve it's content. Right now my kids only listen to the radio in the car. When they're not home they listen to mp3 players or internet radio. And when they are home they listen to cds or internet radio for music. If our cars could get Pandora, they'd listen to that while driving too.

My main point is, if HD radio wants to become mainstream, it needs to get it's act together. Put out more entertainment options. Get rid of simulcasts and for gods sake let people know that you have stuff they want to listen to. I remember FM rock stations in the 70's putting up huge billboards when less than 50% of car radios had FM band receivers in them. Radio stations have the opportunity to get really creative with these extra bands and are, IMO, blowing it. That was what did it for FM and it can work for HD too. Otherwise, someone, someday is going to put something like Pandora standard on car radios and the whole industry will blow up.
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post #30 of 47 Old 02-08-2012, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W1KNE View Post



And I am sorry to those here who are fans of it, but can we finally kill AM HD all ready? Use the money spent on AM HD towards FM HD improvements instead? Outside of one radio disney station in Boston, I have yet to hear AM HD which sounds good to me. It's just too artifical sounding.


In the Detroit area, I have sampled quite a few AM HD stations that sounded remarkably well....

so poo on that thought....
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