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Yes I know, another radio negative post. Hey guys! I LOVE radio. Most of us here do.
I hate to see money spent on yet another quality initiative with tepid potential, though it can have some sales potential, if nothing else to show *something* is being done, when the real issue is content innovation, and specifically, improved daily relevance.
Rule Based Radio (RBR, you read it here first TM) isn’t all that relevant, has shallow, if any real drama, and it’s not well suited to informing people, if that’s the basis for the broadcast.
Doesn’t matter how nice it might sound. Sort of like, “Nice girl, no brains, too bad…”
At least with iHEART, I can go get streams from anywhere there happens to be some radio worth listening to, or a great podcast… I will stream a little lefty talk that way, but I also will increasingly get that via podcast / app / stream too.
Maybe one of these days, when the debt house of cards falls down, somebody can pick up the pieces and get to work on content and there will be more interesting and positive discussion.
There are no phones I know of capable of receiving an AM-HD digital broadcast.
Streaming is slowly being carved out as something carriers need to encourage to add value to their platform. Actually using a smart phone conflicts with data caps and the reluctance of carriers to make ongoing investments in their networks to better serve users paying for service. At least one carrier has put some popular streaming services outside the data cap, and others may well follow.
I’m just gonna ignore “superior” sound quality. It’s gonna compete nicely with the average stream though.
In the car, this could make some sense. Depends on the topology where it’s used. When I sampled AM HD in the midwest, it was workable. Here in the North West, it’s gonna range from par to less, depending. All digital does mean no analog to fall back on. Then again, Satellite Radio suffers from this and people aren’t all that worked up over it, which favors this.
IMHO, the big competition will be between streaming services making deals with carriers, who will move or modify data caps enough to preserve value, and downloadable / easily synchronized content. (podcasts)
AM-HD will be range limited, streaming will not, nor will podcasts.
I’ll just put quality as equal, and IMHO it mostly is.
AM-HD will eventually have to run ADS, streaming and podcasts range from free, to AD funded, to subscription.
AM-HD will most likely follow existing radio formats and “ideology”, streaming and podcasts may do that, but there is a lot of variety.
Notably, AM-HD may well be at a disadvantage in the area of content innovation. Streaming and podcasts are already innovating in various ways.
**Here we have the same old “quality” argument AGAIN!! I find it amazing to see the same shit, packaged in various ways (new brand every 6 months), yielding the same tepid results frequently associated with quality problems.
Again, for the folks reading at home. You’ve got two options! One source is compelling but the quality is low, and the other source sounds great, but just isn’t compelling. Which do you use? Which do you think most people would use?
It’s gonna be the interesting stuff in front for the vast majority of people!
Content is king. Quality is nice, but content is king.
As talk radio dives, I get the idea of using the AM stations to carve out a new niche. Totally. But, it’s actually gotta be NEW!
Ok, back to the details now.
AM-HD and streaming have some coverage issues. Phones don’t always have data service, and terrain / conditions will impact AM-HD reception. Podcasts require a sync / copy operation, which can be largely automated. Once that is done, playing the material is energy efficient and there are no coverage issues.
AM-HD is a linear medium. Missed it? Well, hope you can get to the archives. What are those? Streams and podcasts, both of which can present a schedule, be on demand, and are non-linear in that users can rewind, seek an archive, share (depending), forward, whatever.
AM-HD, streams, podcasts all have the potential to play ADS within the program, and all can be customized per region. Streams and podcasts can be granular down to the listener who requested them, if desired.
AM-HD requires a newer, capable radio. Streams and podcasts require only a computer and most any smartphone in use today.
AM-HD reception isn’t on smartphones today. (correct me on this, if I’m wrong) FM reception is on some smartphones. Typically, this means radio will require one carry or have access to a radio.
Here’s a subtle but important one:
AM-HD, and radio use in general, conflicts with the “in car” smart phone model. One very nice benefit of using a smartphone for streaming / podcasts, is that one gets their phone calls. The show is suspended and the phone call gets focus, often possible hands free. Once the call is done, the show returns and continues.
Here’s the subtle bit: Most phones can do this even on older car systems, requiring only some reasonable way to get audio into the car system. AM-HD will require newer car systems, a newer third party radio, and some integration be done to manage phones. Currently, this kind of thing is being done for (some) Apple phones, leaving Android out of the loop.
Using the phone for both is less overall activity compared to radio overall.
The impact of this is clear, and comparable to what happened to AM radio overall when auto manufacturers and phone manufacturers left it out of the equation, or degraded it. Younger listener share, even just sampling, went to near zero.
If any of this stuff, syncing, having a car integration done (to allow seamless phone / radio interaction model) as examples, is too much trouble, it won’t get adopted. A lean UX model (what one does to get shit done, basically) is the expected and growing norm.
AM-HD isn’t something one would use an app to interact with. We call that a stream 🙂
Few people understand what AM-HD actually is. “HD Radio” in general isn’t widely understood, just as AM-Stereo wasn’t, and we’ve gone over why here many, many times too. Everybody understands what a stream is, and many understand podcasts. Apps fill those gaps nicely, and pretty much everybody knows what an app is.
**So there you go. The core differentiators as I see them. Man, if I were in sales, I would very rapidly get to one singular question:
“What content will I have that won’t be on streaming and podcasts?”
If there is a good answer to that, maybe this can have a positive impact. If there isn’t a good answer to that, I’m going to get that resume out and fresh, because it’s gonna be brutal.
Now, to be fair, there is a quality problem with ordinary AM. Newer radios do not reproduce it well, and an entire generation doesn’t even understand why or what to look for. For those people who do understand, the content isn’t really there, or it’s niche / ethnic.
That aside, the core radio issue just isn’t quality. FM is good, FM-HD is better, and radio adopting streams and podcasts (to which I have some great ideas I might let go someday…) can bring things to people in a way that is relevant and can compete on quality overall.
The core issue IS CONTENT. When I see stuff like, “All our content..” I think, “Really?” What content? No joke. That’s the problem!
And “content” can be people and the “cool” also written here many times, or it can be music, or it can be talk, or it can be themed shows, whatever.
So what exactly is the goal here? Is it to maximize the use of AM stations to the older listeners? If so, OK. That could plug the big hole we’ve got in talk radio due to Limbaugh fucking it all up, and due to corporate radio not actually doing leftie talk, among many other things.
But will that actually deliver returns? Will older people continue to get newer radios? Maybe!
If the goal is to improve relevance and pick up the generation of lost listeners, a mere quality move won’t cut it.September 17, 2012 at 4:02 am in reply to: The Morning Shows Still LIVE From Portland And NOT #2451
Not those kind…September 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm in reply to: The Morning Shows Still LIVE From Portland And NOT #2447
KPOJ is live in the morning, and I enjoy the show. Saw Carl at the Komen event today.
On that note, the numbers are way down from the politics gaffe. Hope they rebound, because I’ve got friends and such associated with the event. I like it, because it’s a Father Daughter and friends tradition we will keep up, even through the ugly goings on. Our group all thought it about the same, annoyed at how poorly it ran this year. Abortion doesn’t cause breast cancer, lol!!
So, he was there talking to people, nice to shake a hand and exchange a few words.
The kids next to me? “What the fuck is AM 620 KPOJ?”
So I replied, “It’s liberal talk radio –we are gonna get Obama elected again this year.” They say, “Oh cool! Does my radio do AM?” The radio app mention was most relevant, linking it to other things they are familiar with.
They use radio, but they can’t really identify with the old formats. Now, they did identify with Z100, and some of the other more relevant brands. Our group was composed of very old to very young. Abstract branding, like “AM 620 KPOJ” doesn’t work AT ALL with them. Even the FM stations being discussed worked that way. Their references were all indirect, or single word. To be fair, they were all way outside any demo that would seriously consider talk, though the 30+ among us did know what the station was, and I met a fellow listener in the group I didn’t know about.
“The Mike and Amy station” works for them too. That’s what I mean by indirect.
It’s my observation that a morning show anchors the station for that crowd, making the brand accessible, and that cross media promotion would really be a net gain.
Had that 620 booth referenced Obama, Portland talk, “Keeping it weird”, or some other PDX reference, it would have made more sense to them.
Daily relevance again… I swear, radio needs to get a whole slug of 20 somethings and put them on air and give them some rope. Good stuff would happen, particularly if multiple media forms were used.
Yes, they should just run the stereo.
There are a lot of radios out there still. Over time, that will diminish, but the cost to get it turned on is sunk, once done, having little impact.
A stream can then be stereo, if desired. Not a bad thing. And should the HD AM system improve, the stereo chain is done there too.
And the people who built HD Radios to decode it did the right thing. Those radios are simply better radios, delivering all quality modes to the listener, such as they are.
That’s why Ford always put that into their Premium units, which I’ve seen AMS in as late as 2002.
Honestly, that’s a simple line item on the list of things that can raise the value perception in the buyers mind, all of which contribute to reducing the added cost of the HD radio as a barrier to adoption.
That same dynamic works for the broadcaster too. They get to say “Stereo”, mention the stream, etc… That’s differentiated from the others, who don’t get to say that, and that’s always worth something.
Hope they have a grand time, in any case.
Here’s a great example of that oldies in stereo formula in action:
And besides, the oldies are fab in AMS! Talk about old school, period correct! Why not?