Serious Technical Issues with HD/IBOC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 91 Old 08-04-2007, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Found this post in ba.broadcast:

"NPR story on HD radio startup"

"Problems with the system that pervade the entire HD/IBOC data and codec from beginning to end, all the way to the signal on the air persist. The codec, by today's standards, is grossly inferior on FM and literally unspeakable on AM (gee, I had no idea). Since they're hardwired into the receivers, they won't be changed anytime soon, if ever."

"But it goes beyond that. There were bad choices of network layer such that reliability is compromised. The code used in exciters has a severe memory leak, so the exciters crash routinely. The receivers can be locked up solid by malformed packets, requiring a power cycle to restore operation. The list goes on and on and on."

"Will any of this get fixed? Probably not, since all the money right now is going to promotion, not to technical bug fixes. This is a system that has been in development for a decade and a half, and it still has problems from beginning to end that range from audio encoding, through the transport layers, to the encoding, and now, with the spectral regrowth problems, to the broadcast bands themselves; you know...that which is supposed to be serving the public. I would love to be implementing digital radio. But this is garbage."

-- John Higdon +1 408 ANdrews 6-4400

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Unfortunately, with these very serious on-going technical issues, lackluster HD sales, and the up-coming broadcaster royality rates for the HD channels, I really don't see how HD is ever going to be successful. There is even an HD defector who broke of from the CPR board in Vail because of the potential move to HD:

westword.\\c\\o\\m/2007-06-14/news/going-public/
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post #2 of 91 Old 08-04-2007, 12:35 PM
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Hd has been marketed for less than a year. And (this is FAIR criticism, I think!) HAS NEVER BEEN MARKETED PROPERLY! HD SHOULD BE MARKETED ON TV, IN PRINT, IN MOVIES, BILLBOARDS, DIRECT0-MAIL, and everywhere else as satellite radio was. But HD isn't "revolutionary" technology. It's evolutionary. HDTV hasn't set the world on fire, either. After a decade, most people don't have one, and most tv isn't HD. TONS of primetime on networks isn't HD. And when shows are HD, much of their content is blocked off stuff shot in standard definition with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Broadcast technology takes MANY years to evolve. People will buy HD when they buy their next radio, just as they'll buy HDTV when they buy their next tv. I"ve been reading about HDTV for more than 30 years. It's been available for a decade. I just bought one...when my tv died. Only radio geeks and early adopters run out and buy "the next new thing" just to have it.

Still, most people don't know what HD radio is. They've heard those stupid, poorly written ads on HD stations, and from them they conclude that they already have it (just as AM listeners believed they already had AM stereo). That is OUR fault (as broadcasters). If we can't sell ourselves any better than this, we deserve to fail!
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post #3 of 91 Old 08-04-2007, 06:00 PM
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[quote=HDRadioKillerApp]Found this post in ba.broadcast:

"NPR story on HD radio startup"

"Problems with the system that pervade the entire HD/IBOC data and codec from beginning to end, all the way to the signal on the air persist. The codec, by today's standards, is grossly inferior on FM and literally unspeakable on AM (gee, I had no idea). Since they're hardwired into the receivers, they won't be changed anytime soon, if ever."

I'll go into more when I have time but hardwired into the receiver? what is hardwired, the codec? If anyone said that they have no idea how HD radios work. They are all software radios and firmware can be changed at will. Codecs can be downloaded inot the radio via a port on the back of the unit. And the codec is vastly infiereor to what? It's a variation of AAC which is the current most sophisticated compression scheme. IBOC has issues but what is mentioned in this artical you posted is nonsense and old wives tales. I've been told that the codec IBOC uses is far superior to what the two satellite services are using. I'm not a fan of IBOC on AM only because of artifacts due to its limited bandwidth. On FM a properly engineered IBOC station sounds superior to its co-channel analog signal. Here in NYC we have 5 soon to be 6 AM IBOCS and the FM band is covered with stations running the digital exciter and sure a very few have failed for odd reasons but basically they have run sun up to sundown for months on end with no issues. On FM I think in the year and a half I've owned my radios onnly one FM HD 2 has gone off line. It's back after a software upgrade now. I do agree that the system has been horribly marketed. Now with so many stations on line they have to get the radios into cars. Once they do that it'll really take off.
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post #4 of 91 Old 08-04-2007, 06:17 PM
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There are small things that could be done in terms of promotions...

1) offer them in fleets of rental cars - it wouldn't advertise it but it could be word of mouth

2) contests for a few in college campuses (portible ones)

etc
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post #5 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 05:52 AM
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mdovell is right that one of the most important things to do is promote HD to college-age people. THEY will decide the future, as they'll still be alive and kickin', determining trends long after old guys like me are pushin' daisies. Getting HD into portable devices (and onto the "cool" college stations) will be a great first step.
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post #6 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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[quote=R.F. Burns]
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Originally Posted by HDRadioKillerApp View Post

Found this post in ba.broadcast:
I do agree that the system has been horribly marketed. Now with so many stations on line they have to get the radios into cars. Once they do that it'll really take off.

But, automakers have rejected HD Radio for Satellite Radio - 1/4th of new cars are carrying Satellite Radio as either an option, or standard equipment. Also, with more dropouts with in-dash HD Radio, do you really think automakers are going to be installing HD radios, once word gets around ?
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post #7 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Walker View Post

mdovell is right that one of the most important things to do is promote HD to college-age people. THEY will decide the future, as they'll still be alive and kickin', determining trends long after old guys like me are pushin' daisies. Getting HD into portable devices (and onto the "cool" college stations) will be a great first step.

"Can Sony Make HD Radio A Winner?"

"So, the old consumers don't want HD. Young consumers think the concept is laughable. Big retailers can't sell it. And radio companies won't invest in it."

insidemusicmedia.blogspot.\\c\\o\\m/2007/05/can-sony-make-hd-radio-winner.\\h\ \\m\\l

Maketing HD Radio to the younger generation, including college campuses, would be a waste of time.
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post #8 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 07:53 AM
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Bull (that it would be a waste of time). Younger people listen to fm radio less than they used to, but it's not as if they don't listen at all. They do. And college stations that play music the commercial outlets won't touch are still very popular. Terrestrial radio has more listeners in all demographic brackets than internet, satellite, and other so called "competitors" combined.
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post #9 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 07:54 AM
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[quote=HDRadioKillerApp]
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Originally Posted by R.F. Burns View Post


But, automakers have rejected HD Radio for Satellite Radio - 1/4th of new cars are carrying Satellite Radio as either an option, or standard equipment. Also, with more dropouts with in-dash HD Radio, do you really think automakers are going to be installing HD radios, once word gets around ?

Satellite didn't happen overnight, either. And my factory satellite radio drops out a lot more than my HD does. Half the bridges, every parking structure, and all of one interstate if I'm eastbound in the southernmost lane. I'm guessing the adoption curve will be about the same as all other radio technologies. It took FM YEARS before appearing in cars. And those early radios had severe multipath issues. Same adoption curve with satellite. Right now, HD Radio's issue, to me, is the programming, which is pretty lame. Once more broadcasters start sticking unique and desirable content on secondary streams, the "must-have" numbers will go up. Already starting to see that here, with our HD-2 channel starting to show up in ratings data. Granted, a lot of that is the internet stream, but still .

I do find it interesting how closely HD Radio is following the same pattern FM did. Simulcasts and automated niche programming. Heck, even satellite started out the same way.

As for the advertising, we have a billboard campaign going here, now. And, of course, radio promotions and retailer co-op ads. Those ads are nice, but they still don't really explain it, well, IMHO.

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post #10 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 07:55 AM
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And automakers haven't "rejected" HD radio at all. Ford is about to include HD in new models (source Monitoring Times, August 2007). Chrysler and GM say they will decide in the next few months. These decisions haven't even been made yet. GM says it's the cost of implementation that will be the deciding factor...and costs will continue to decline. Five years ago, who could have imagined that millions of cars would have mp3 BUILT IN?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Walker View Post

And automakers haven't "rejected" HD radio at all. Ford is about to include HD in new models (source Monitoring Times, August 2007). Chrysler and GM say they will decide in the next few months. These decisions haven't even been made yet. GM says it's the cost of implementation that will be the deciding factor...and costs will continue to decline. Five years ago, who could have imagined that millions of cars would have mp3 BUILT IN?

Yes they have:

U.S. automakers not jumping into HD Radio

"Ford was not immediately available for comment. The radios are estimated to cost about $45 each to install, or each of the three carmakers about $150 million to $200 million annually, automotive industry sources said."

http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv...7?pageNumber=1

I searched Monitoring Times and the Web but see no proof of such an announcement - perhaps, you could provide a link. Problem is, it would cost the Big Three $600,000,000 annually to install. They are not convinced that HD Radio is a viable technology. Also, HD Radio drops out in moving vehicles even more, so what do you think consumers are going to think ?

Automakers are going with Satellite Radio an iPod jacks:

"New GM vehicles to feature input jack for iPod"

"General Motors has announced plans to introduce an auxiliary input jack and an auxiliary channel on new radios coming to the Chevy HHR and GM vehicles later this year. The auto maker said that the input jack will simplify connecting Apple iPods and other music players."

http://playlistmag.com/news/2005/03/18/gmipod/index.php

Considering the overwhelming popularity of iPods, which do you think consumers would pick ?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDRadioKillerApp View Post

Yes they have:

No, they haven't. And, no, I don't have a link. But I work in the media in Detroit and know a LOT of Big 3 executives. HD Radio is not off the table with Ford. Nor anyone else. As with FM and AM Stereo, they'll do a little wait-and-see, first. But they have not rejected HD Radio.

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post #13 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
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No, they haven't. And, no, I don't have a link. But I work in the media in Detroit and know a LOT of Big 3 executives. HD Radio is not off the table with Ford.

Where's the proof ?
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post #14 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 09:44 AM
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The proof is from my conversations with those very executives I mentioned. You're welcome to sit in on one next time I bump into one at a ballgame, charity function or cocktail party. Of course, that means hanging out with me 24/7. That can get dull.

By virtue of my job, I know a lot of things going on with automakers that haven't been publicized.

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post #15 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:07 AM
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Well, I think the Big 3 had best damned sure act more like Toyota and Honda are challenging them for dominance.
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post #16 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
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The proof is from my conversations with those very executives I mentioned. You're welcome to sit in on one next time I bump into one at a ballgame, charity function or cocktail party. Of course, that means hanging out with me 24/7. That can get dull.

By virtue of my job, I know a lot of things going on with automakers that haven't been publicized.

"Ford's New Toy"

"The fast-growing satellite radio star has been able to grow quickly, in part thanks to factory-installed satellite receivers for its service from automakers like Ford... Sync will allow drivers to plug in their portable music players to their cars. That itself isn't new. More and more cars are hopping on the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) gravy train by making sure that their new lines come with iPod jacks. However, the Sync will allow users to pick the tunes they want to hear through voice activation, as well as surf the Internet for other broadcasts."

http://www.fool.com/investing/high-g...s-new-toy.aspx

Even if HD Radio manages to get in-dash, as a $500 option, there is no doubt that consumers would choose the new Sync. In-dash terrestrial radio is under assault more and more by CD's, Satellite Radio, iPod jacks, and eventually Wireless Internet Radio, as Sprint is working on nation-wide WiMax, which will be installed in some major cities starting at the end of this year. Terrestrial radio's TSL is down significantly and continuing in a downward trend.
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post #17 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:28 AM
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HD Radio has been around for a little over a year. Where was satellite radio its first year? Losing hundreds of millions of dollars. I'm surprised it's still around.

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post #18 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:31 AM
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HDRadioKillerApp, you obviously have an issue with HD radio. If I can draw a conclusion from your comment you want to see this fail? Can you tell us why that is?



Quote:
Originally Posted by HDRadioKillerApp View Post

"Ford's New Toy"

"The fast-growing satellite radio star has been able to grow quickly, in part thanks to factory-installed satellite receivers for its service from automakers like Ford... Sync will allow drivers to plug in their portable music players to their cars. That itself isn't new. More and more cars are hopping on the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) gravy train by making sure that their new lines come with iPod jacks. However, the Sync will allow users to pick the tunes they want to hear through voice activation, as well as surf the Internet for other broadcasts."

http://www.fool.com/investing/high-g...s-new-toy.aspx

Even if HD Radio manages to get in-dash, as a $500 option, there is no doubt that consumers would choose the new Sync. In-dash terrestrial radio is under assault more and more by CD's, Satellite Radio, iPod jacks, and eventually Wireless Internet Radio, as Sprint is working on nation-wide WiMax, which will be installed in some major cities starting at the end of this year. Terrestrial radio's TSL is down significantly and continuing in a downward trend.

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post #19 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:33 AM
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HDRadioKillerapp writes "I searched Monitoring Times and the Web but see no proof of such an announcement - perhaps, you could provide a link."

The article is in Monitoring Times magazine. The "link" is your local Barnes and Noble, or you can subscribe online and read it. They don't have their current issue online for free for obvious reasons. Duh!

After six years, there are fifteen million total subscribers to satellite radio, vs 250 million terrestrial radio listeners. The vast majority of people buying new cars with satellite radio don't renew once the trial subscription ends. Satellite radio is stalled...people willing to pay for radio already are...around five percent. HD is merely the next evolutionary step for the most popular medium on the planet...terrestrial radio. If terrestrial radio is so unimportant to the auto industry, why is such a huge portion of my income from producing commercials for NEW CARS! Bottom line: the auto industry is, was, and always will be "our bitch". EVERY new form of terrestrial radio will be in the dashes of America's cars. It's just a matter of whose arm must be twisted (or who must be bribed) first. We're still VERY early in the introduction of HD radio. The freakin' rules have just been finalized for God's sake! We are officially still in the experimental phases of a VERY new technology, which is still taking shape.
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post #20 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:34 AM
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Amen Scowl. Terrestrial radio is doing something satellite (and internet) radio has yet to do...it's MAKING MONEY! And lots of it!
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post #21 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 10:35 AM
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I got my HD radio because of the avs discussions re the Sangean tuner. But otherwise I'd never have noticed it existed here. I had read on the FCC site it was being tested experimentally a few years back, but never knew we had so many stations now on the air.

And I've seen HD radio in several local stores. Some even have FM radios on display actually running. But I did not see a single store where I could even turn on an HD radio and actually listen to it! Seems to me in store comparisions with working radios is a must before these things can sell.

Imagine a HDTV retailer selling sets where they are all turned off and can't be demonstrated.
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post #22 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Walker View Post

We're still VERY early in the introduction of HD radio. The freakin' rules have just been finalized for God's sake! We are officially still in the experimental phases of a VERY new technology, which is still taking shape.

And if you've read the white paper on Ibiquity's site, you'll see that HD Radio was designed to be tremendously flexible for stations who chose to broadcast in pure digital in the future. It more than doubles the number of bits they'll be able to broadcast and the power restrictions will be gone in most cases. This technology was designed to have a long long future to provide us with digital radio and data services we haven't even thought of yet.

Yes, they will probably offer pay services... but has satellite radio become free recently?

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post #23 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StillwaterTownie View Post

Well, I think the Big 3 had best damned sure act more like Toyota and Honda are challenging them for dominance.

If iPods kill off Satellite Radio, then HD Radio has no chance:

"GM, Ford embrace iPod; satellite radio dead?"

"In what could send some ominous signals for satellite radio providers, Apple Computer Inc. Thursday (August 3) teamed up with Ford Motor, General Motors and Mazda to deliver "seamless iPod integration" across the majority of their respective car brands and models. The three auto makers claimed that they will make it easier for users to integrate their iPods into a car stereo system. Seamless iPod integration allows drivers to use their car's multifunction controls to select their music, according to Apple."

http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/s...leID=191800212

Ford is making iPod jacks standard, so HD Radio has no chance:

"Ford makes MP3 jack standard"

"Taking a cue from a J.D. Power and Associates study that found more than half of today's drivers want MP3 player integration in their cars, Ford announced today that it would make auxiliary audio input jacks standard on its 2007 Edge, Explorer, Expedition, Mustang, Fusion, Sport Trac, Ranger, and F-150. The auxiliary jacks will also be standard on the 2007 Mercury Milan and Mountaineer, along with the 2007 Lincoln MKX, MKZ, Navigator, and Mark LT. "

http://reviews.cnet.com/4531-10921_7-6650997.html

The imports have also chosen ipod jacks:

"iPod Compatible Cars"

"More auto makers are discovering that iPod compatiblity can help close a sale. Here's a list that won't break the bank when you sign on the dotted line."

http://www.digitalmania-online.com/i...ible-Cars.html

Even Hundai, who tried HD Radio as a $500 option, has decided to go with standard Satellite Radio:

"Hyundai to fit XM Satellite in all models"

http://news.com.com/Hyundai+to+fit+X...3-5631470.html

HD Radio doesn't have a chance, in or out of the dash.
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post #24 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDRadioKillerApp View Post


"New GM vehicles to feature input jack for iPod"

"General Motors has announced plans to introduce an auxiliary input jack and an auxiliary channel on new radios coming to the Chevy HHR and GM vehicles later this year. The auto maker said that the input jack will simplify connecting Apple iPods and other music players."

http://playlistmag.com/news/2005/03/18/gmipod/index.php

Considering the overwhelming popularity of iPods, which do you think consumers would pick ?

And iPods have been out for how long? I don't think the automakers are necessarily a good gauge of the popularity of a particular electronics item.
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post #25 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 11:28 AM
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First of all, I'd like to distance myself from HDRadioKillerApp. He doesn't speak for me. (He should also look up the definition of a "killer app." I don't think it means what he thinks it means.)

Arguing about HD Radio's success, or lack thereof, based on the life cycles of previous products, seems a bit foolish to me. But I would be interested in what sort of future the HD Radio supporters see happening. Best case scenario.

Remember, consumers will have to have a reason to seek out and adopt the new technology . . . not just a sound quality advantage or additional programming, but something that makes them say "I gotta have that." What does HD Radio have, or will have, that will make that happen for the majority of radio listeners? What is HD Radio's killer advantage over its competition, which includes iPods, wireless internet, satellite radio, good old fashioned analog broadcasting, and heaven knows what other new technologies?
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post #26 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 12:35 PM
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Ipods won't kill off radio any more than 78s, 45s, lps, reel to reel tapes, eight tracks, or cassettes killed radio. Each generation believes they invented the wheel. Recordings have co-existed with broadcasts since my grandfather hit puberty (more then eight decades ago). And in their time, eight track cartridges and cassettes were every bit as popular as ipods. Eight tracks were INSTALLED in most every vehicle for a time (NO Ipods are installed! And that "ipod input" could just as well be a PDA input, or input for anything else that outputs stereo audio). Hell, cars once had 45rpm changes (no sh#t!) None of this had anything to do with the popularity of radio. Radio is where people are exposed to music they later buy for their turntable, tape player, cd player, or ipod. There are more listeners to terrestrial radio in the us than there are Ipod owners ON EARTH (250 million vs. 100 million). And the market penetration of cassettes and eight tracks was a helluva lot greater than 100 million ON THE PLANET! That's not to say that the Ipod is a failure. Far from it. What the Ipod is, and what many here are too young to put into context, is the new cassette. That's a lot. But that's ALL it is.
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post #27 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 12:37 PM
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And as for "just new programming opportunities", that's ALL that Ipod, internet radio, satellite radio, or any other AUDIO medium CAN offer...new things to listen to! All audio services can offer is AUDIO. Sorry!
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post #28 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 02:43 PM
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Ipods won't kill off radio any more than 78s, 45s, lps, reel to reel tapes, eight tracks, or cassettes killed radio. Each generation believes they invented the wheel. Recordings have co-existed with broadcasts since my grandfather hit puberty (more then eight decades ago). And in their time, eight track cartridges and cassettes were every bit as popular as ipods. Eight tracks were INSTALLED in most every vehicle for a time (NO Ipods are installed! And that "ipod input" could just as well be a PDA input, or input for anything else that outputs stereo audio). Hell, cars once had 45rpm changes (no sh#t!) None of this had anything to do with the popularity of radio. Radio is where people are exposed to music they later buy for their turntable, tape player, cd player, or ipod. There are more listeners to terrestrial radio in the us than there are Ipod owners ON EARTH (250 million vs. 100 million). And the market penetration of cassettes and eight tracks was a helluva lot greater than 100 million ON THE PLANET! That's not to say that the Ipod is a failure. Far from it. What the Ipod is, and what many here are too young to put into context, is the new cassette. That's a lot. But that's ALL it is.

Well, if 45s, LPs, cassettes, and CDs didn't kill off music on radio, what did? (Commercials!) Music fled AM for FM in the 70s, and AM replaced it with talk radio. FM is going the same way.

Radio is where you get exposed to new music that you want to buy? Since when? With rare exceptions, music on radio reinforces what people already like. Very few stations would venture to play anything other than what surveys tell them that people already like. Radio used to a place to break bands and enlighten the audience with something new, but not now.

What have I found that is compelling to listen to? Satellite radio. It can be eclectic enough to appeal to different tastes. I'm not talking about the "decades" channels. Actually, the only thing one of them does is remind me how much bad music there was in the 70s. HD Radio has a shot here, even when it isn't just providing better reception for the underlying station.

You seem to think that 8-tracks were hugely popular in cars. I've only seen 8-track players in two cars, I think, and one of those was an aftermarket 8-track player. I've seen more 8-track players integrated into home systems than car systems. Cassettes really did much better, and CDs bested that, as far as factory installs are concerned. It's my opinion, but it's as good as yours unless you've got some CEA data to back it up. 45s in cars? Puh-lease. Concept and gimmick only (and maybe Elvis.)

But this is all way off topic. To attempt a return, the IBOC system is far from perfect, but it fine for listening in the car and casually at home. For better or worse, it has been a success because of quantity, not quality. It really has been as successful as it is because of the number of station groups that have gotten behind it. It's still not clear why. (Yes, I'm skeptical.)

And on a personal note, if you think that overusing capitalization doesn't make you look like a raving lunatic, you are delusional. Make your case, but stop trying to convince everybody that only you are right.
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post #29 of 91 Old 08-05-2007, 11:55 PM
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Radio is where you get exposed to new music that you want to buy? Since when? With rare exceptions, music on radio reinforces what people already like.

I'm having the same discussion with local radio people on our radio board. The programmers feel absolutely bound by studies that show conclusively that listeners prefer to hear stuff they've already heard and the more familar they are with it, the more they like it. The old concept of listeners being exposed to new music on the radio is just about dead.

Or will HD Radio solve this problem? Here's a good sign. Our "alternative" station which plays "alternative" music from such "alternative" bands like U2 and Green Day (perhaps you've heard of these obscure bands) is also responsible for the "Local Artists Only" HD2 station I've been raving about. I haven't heard 80% of these bands and probably less than 90% of the songs. Yeah, there are a lot of mediocre local bands and even the good ones sound like weak imitations of popular bands, but I will gladly listen to this than songs I got tired of twenty years ago.

This station actually went through the labor of creating a truly unique HD2 station that's not only fun to listen to but also supports the local music scene and gives some people a reason to get an HD radio. It's next to impossible to keep up with all the music being released by bands in Portland and Seattle, much less Boise (!) and every song title is followed by the city the band is from. I've heard a few bands like Daylight Basement who I think are as damn catchy as any band out there today. I never would have heard them without this station.

NOW: my post on AVS Forum.
NEXT: someone else's post on AVS Forum.
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post #30 of 91 Old 08-06-2007, 03:46 AM
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First of all, FM didn't reach audience parity with AM until about 1982, not "the 70s". There were TONS of AM music stations in the 80s, and in fact there still are hundreds of successful AM music stations around the country. There isn't one single reason why much of the audience left AM music stations for FM, but I can name MANY instances where, as FM started to equal AM's audience, AM rock stations started changing formats WILDLY...first trying Adult Contemporary (killing off young listeners), then Adult Standards (killing off listeners in their 30s and 40s), finally switching to talk. In effect, in MANY cases, stations that had ratings THEY WOULD KILL FOR NOW with all the fragmentation that's set in LEFT THEIR LISTENERS, rather than the listeners leaving them. I think successful AM music stations largely committed mass suicide in the 80s. Stations around here that didn't "drink the Kool Aid" in the 80s, that continued playing music, are STILL DOING WELL more then two decades later! They didn't desert the audience, so guess what...IT STAYED! Take Wilkes County where I live. EVERY FM MUSIC STATION from Greensbor and Charlotte is audible here, but the number one station year after year is WKBC AM, a country music station that NEVER CHANGED FORMATS!

Again, this is what happens when people who don't work in radio pontificate about the industry, as if their knowledge was not only fact, but universally known by everyone except for those poor, uninformed souls WHO ACTUALLY WORK IN RADIO! At any rate, AM stations DID largely adopt talk formats. But that wasn't exactly the end of 'em! And there are many AMs that can and will do better with music formats in the future thanks to HD. By the way, people who don't know their rectal orifices from a hole in the ground frequently say things like "AM Stereo was invented to save AM in the 80s, and that didn't work"...not realizing that AM stereo was actually proposed (and worked just fine) in the early 60s, when AM had more than 90 percent of the audience, but the FCC decided to put it on hold to give FM an advantage...because FM was FAILING MISERABLY!

Anyone who thinks there's no new music on the radio obviously hasn't checked past the commercial outlets owned by Clear Channel, CBS, etc. to the public and college stations which offer TONS of music you can't hear anywhere else. Check out a couple at WNCW http://www.wncw.org or WXPN whose "Exponential Radio" has a phenomenal variety of music, and is carried around here on the HD2 channel of WFAE Charlotte http://www.wxpn.org

By the way...programmers are right...people ARE more comfortable with musical that resembles things they've heard before, just as mystery readers are comfortable with the genre when it contains elements from most successful mysteries. That doesn't mean that an occasional "what the f@@@" moment isn't both unexpected, but delightful...and good programmers know that. Music, like all of culture, is never something entirely unlike what came before. It begins with a foundation laid by previous generations, as does all of life! We ALL, whether we admit it or not, stop when we hear something familiar...not necessarily an old song, but one with familiar elements. We're comfortable with what we already like. SO WHAT? Many Joni Mitchell fans started with "Both Sides Now", but stayed for "Hejira", and "The Hissing of Summer Lawns"...FAR LESS CONVENTIONAL FARE! Familiar is the "hook", NEW is the vitality that keeps things exciting. And PLENTY of radio these days offers both, though admittedly not enough. Which is why multicasting on HD offers a GREAT opportunity to expand variety!

And "commercials" killing radio, or tv, is your FANTASY. With a bazillion channels available on the internet, and satellite, more than 250 million Americans listen to terrestrial radio every week. With HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and a few hundred other commercial-free channels now decades old, the big commercial networks still OWN PRIMETIME! There are two choices...the listener pays for the programming, or advertisers do. The model that has succeeded and thrived generation after generation (15 million to 250 million in terms of satellite vs. terrestrial) is ADVERTISER SUPPORT!

Recent studies have shown that most listeners DO NOT tune out from terrestrial stations when commercial breaks come on. After a 3 minute break, between 80 and 90 percent ARE STILL LISTENING! So much for theories about how radio works from people who aren't in radio. Want to try some amateur neuro-surgery?
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