Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them." Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

"Two kinds of ballplayers aren't worth a darn: One that never does what he's told, and one who does nothin' except what he's told." Oail (Bum) Phillips

"The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care." Colin Powell

Today's image: Josh and Footprints by Vu Bui. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Today, my response to the RBR article Why HD Radio may never make it.

"Jacta alea est"

The typing, not to be confused with writing, was not signed. We were told only that the keystroke artist was a "loyal reader" and "For business reasons, this reader cannot be identified by name." Since RBR chief Jim Carnegie did ask "Got a different take?" Let me now say that I do. Here's my scribble on each of the article's six points.

1) The name is wrong...already taken...Why unnecessarily create the impression of a brand extension...Rookie mistake.

Absent the suspect HDR Alliance research there is no empirical evidence to suggest HD Radio means much of anything to the mass audience, only a minority of the population even admit to being familiar with it (Jacobs Media Tech Poll, Arbitron-Edison Infinite Dial). In sum, the name remains innocent, benign, albeit undefined. A professional name lab developed the consumer brand name "HD Radio", the same firm that created the brand "Blackberry" among others. It is the inexperienced or lazy PD that blames the call letters then insists on changing them. Tylenol wrote the primer on rescuing brand names. When product tampering killed customers they stood firm. Radio programming ace Lee Arnold reminds me "The Beatles was a really lame name for a band until they had their first hit, come to think of it what kind of a name for a computer is a fruit?" We should leverage the TV messaging. This is not an act of brand extension but one of brand creation. HDTV = better television, HD Radio = better radio. Let me suggest the rookie here is the anonymous contributor, one needing to read Jones & Slater (or Rosser Reeves the wellspring of Trout & Ries).

2) HD Radio is not listener/consumer driven...neither compelling Content nor is it Convenient to use or understand...listeners do not have faith in the rank-and-file operators.

Physician heal thyself! "The play's the thing." Content is a station level operations issue. This is a leadership problem manifest in a massive failure of imagination, lack of serious investment, an aversion to risk and a growing tolerance, acceptance of mediocrity. On the subject of multicasting my proxy goes to Chuck Tweedle. Chuck, as you may recall, was the GM who built, from scratch, one of the most successful brands in American radio, KOIT. It was Chuck who said "Multicasting is the killer app." The fundamentals remain the same, put something on the wireless that they really want and they'll find it. More on this "product first" approach from Kent Burkhart (#201). Listeners only care about what comes out of the speakers, everything else is a footnote. Some 230 million are keeping the faith weekly and turning on their radios, they could care less about the "rank-and-file operators" (until those operators take away something they care about). As to the ease and convenience issues bear in mind that HD Radio is software driven, we're dealing with version 1.0, first generations of any tech product suck in hindsight. Greed will ensure things will only get better. Hint: Apple developed a hit form factor using a dated common software app.

3) Your almost always a disappointment...does not make a good enough first impression.

The consumer electronics retail value chain plays by cutthroat jungle rules. Few working in the trade today can even remember the last time radio operators had to sell receivers. While the rule sets of CE were changing radio was busy harvesting the golden apples of bcf. Complacent in this rich Garden of the Hesperides radio took its eye off the ball. Driving folks to retail and having retail channels ready and productive while a serious significant challenge is not the Sisyphean mission some make it out to be. The most effective solution to remedy those first impression problems and help create demand is organic - product innovation. We also have an urgent need to get deeply involved at retail and point of sale.

4) It was designed to solve a non-problem.

A popular canard. Let me also quote the "honest liar" Jamy Swiss "I want to highlight the line between illusion and reality." Pay radio had nothing to do with the creation of HD Radio that's a convenient illusion. The reality is IBOC was designed to solve the problem of migrating radio to digital using the same licensed spectrum, a rubric fraught with the perils of "acceptable tradeoffs."

5) Hillary Derangement Syndrome...HD Radio is the Sheridan Whiteside of Media...Even Radio people have lost faith.

Too clever by half. Like Hillary, HD Radio is arguably better than its campaign. Communications from the HDR Alliance are what they are, anyone confusing a press release with reality is, to be kind, tragically naive. The single purpose of this Alliance messaging, imho, is to gin up favor with the street. To say that HD Radio is Whiteside is to infer that operators are Daisy Stanley (or at least the Stanley family). Further, this scenario implies that HD Radio is culpable of blackmail. This stuff smacks of a wacky grassy-knoll theorist mindset. Yes, some radio people have lost faith, some others never had faith, however, some do have faith and are working to make a difference. Again, this is a leadership issue. One needs to remember that at one time the majority of AM operators had no faith whatsoever in the future of FM (as before VHF guys laughed at UHF and the suits of broadcast tv once made jokes about those silly cable guys).

6) The commercials don't work...the more we keep advertising this non-starter, the more it becomes obvious the radio advertising must be the villain.

Poor creative execution is one villain here not the communications channel. The simple facts are advertising fails for a variety of very good reasons. If all one needed to do was run an ad to produce results commercial time would be traded on the gold exchange. There's nothing wrong with radio as an advertising medium. There was, as written here previously, something seriously wrong with the messaging. Peter Ferrara is still not getting credit for changing up the ill-starred "Discover It!" and inviting input after the failed "It's your radio" creative. Will the new campaign work? We need disclosure and transparency to begin that learning process.

In understanding the giant story arc that is radio and media behavior it benefits us to remember. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" so said George Santayana. The quote is probably familiar to most readers but let's put it into its proper context. Here's what Santayana said in The Life of Reason, Vol. 1, Reason in Common Sense...

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

We are going around in one big circle folks. We've been at one of these inflection points before, this will not be the last. Observe! Think! Discuss! Decide! Act! Learn! Think! Repeat. Will HD Radio "make it" whatever that means? Yes, if and when operators get serious. Once we truly understand and respect the advantages inherent in being in perpetual beta. Wimps play defense. My sense is the HD Radio glass is half-full and I'm more concerned about who's pouring. Game on!

My response to the RBR follow-on article Part 2: Can HD Radio Be Saved later this week.

To send comments please use the contact me form (left column). Thank you.


Anonymous said...

David, totally brilliant! WOW and thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Great analysis - HD Radio has been almost a complete failure:

Anonymous said...

Very inspiring blog! You certainly put the "unknown blogger" in his/her place. The facts speak for themselves and you've AGAIN put those front and center. Are you available to be CEO at the HD Radio Alliance?

Anonymous said...

DM - thank you for cutting thru the corporate doublespeak and bs and telling it like it is - awesome article!!!

paul vincent zecchino said...

HD is not consumer driven. It's a fact. Why waste words trying to prove otherwise? Where's the pressure coming from?

In the early days, BigRadio's HD diktat was, "We're not gonna tolerate another AM Stereo - we must make HD work!"

Right outa Greek Mythology under the heading, those condemned to an eternity of futile tasks, eh?

Shouldn't HD have worked right outa the box? It didn't and never will. HD jams. BigRadio thinks jamming will bring listeners around to their way of doing things.

It won't. It never will. HD is over.

So many vapid slogans crabbed from HD Bund poopsheets- 'if they say this about HD, you say that...', as listeners tune out.

Typical of all 'carny shills' whose genesis was the Rotten90s, HD was the absolute wrong decision. Having decided to go HD, those who glugged the Kool-Aid would sooner see radio collapse than admit error.

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino

Manasota Key, Florida
16 April, 2008

Anonymous said...

99.9% perfect article but Apple has proven to be a genius naming when you recall they were up against IBM it screamed different, unique, NEW. Shame on the unnamed blogger and on RBR for giving the person ink. You done good David in setting it right.

dave said...

Via email:


Another very well written thought piece. The case made by the unknown blogger has been revealed for what it is, nothing but mindless typing. Nothing wrong with HD Radio that can't be fixed by changing the guard at the Alliance and holding CEOs accountable for its success.

Anonymous said...


Using your words bravos congrats and cheers. Excellent!

Ian, BBC, UK

bobyoung said...

IBOC (In Band On channel) radio now known as HD, actually was stolen from HDTV where it stands for high definition to try to associate this pile of jamming krap with a successful digital transmission scheme which actually works even though the government is forcing it down all of our throats. HD severely cuts receive range and jams adjacent channels. The anonymous blogger was correct in his assertions, HD cheerleaders just can't grasp the obvious, HD sucks, always did and will until it is dead and buried which will be within two years although of course we will be stuck with remnants of it for years just as the poor broadcasters who actually bought into this junk will still be paying iNiquity for years for nothing. Don't waste your money on a mode which is already obsolete. It is failing all over the world and IBOC is the worst model of them all.

dave said...

via email:


You have long been an inspiration. The "A Great Program Director" you sent to me many years ago is framed and in my office. Without any doubt you are one of the best minds in our business. Your article inspires and disappoints. Inspires because you see things as they should be. Disappoints because we are in a bad patch of water, life is not good for the radio guys, the bar you set is not realistic not today anyway. Meaning no disrespect here. Get your head around this - we are being asked to do everything with nothing. In defense of the big guys at corp they are asked to put up big numbers with nothing. Lose - Lose. Not a negative person, my wife and kids would say I'm as real as it gets but your asking too much. Our main line business needs investment and is not getting it, our online needs investment and is not getting it, why would we get dollar one for multicasting? We won't. Thank you for the continuing inspiration, thank you for making us think about what could be, thank you for getting it when we don't walk the walk when our corp guys are talking the talk. Its the way of the world today. Peace.

(Major market radio programming exec - name reserved at request)

Anonymous said...

dude, you have been totally sucked into the hd radio vortex of zombie crapola SNAP wake up if you still have the strength

Anonymous said...

great post cheers

Anonymous said...


Damn good post but why would you clear the trolls, no excuse.


dave said...


My rules of engagement remain the same, no personal attacks, no NSFW,& it gets cleared. Not happy about the usual suspects but they are commenting within the roe. You need to know a great many emails and posts did not make it. HD Radio as a topic tends to bring out the wack jobs. Thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

your continued support of the hd alliance proves you to be an idiot you need to keep it real read and give some link love to john gorman and doctor del for the truth about these low life

Anonymous said...

Damn you Dave, give up the blog and get back in the game at corp full-time, we need you leading the charge again. Come on. Thanks for another killer on target piece. Call Dan, please. Put the band back together.

sarahjerlea said...


Recognize your genius.

Read your blog daily.

Your insights on new media are priceless.

Online, social nets.

Your marketing wisdom exceeds the pop stars the over rated Godin included.


HDRadio is your blind spot.

Every genius has a blind spot, a mistaken grasp of reality and HDRadio is yours.

HDRadio by any accounting is a turkey and you still pound the drum.

David, your cause is lost. You are a warrior for the failed campaign.

Get on with other matters.

Please stop blogging about HDRadio.

It is a dead horse.

dave said...


Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Great to see you at Web 2.0

I stand with HD Radio and will continue to do so because radio must migrate to digital and to do anything less would be a significant error in business judgment.

Jennifer said...


Awesome piece. You should have used one of you all-time best lines "Nobody likes it but the listeners" Our HD2 channels and their streams are doing pretty good thank you very much. We get some emails and phone calls thanking us for the programming. No, not a monster response but you gotta start somewhere. Your smack down of the unknown blogger was right on the money. Those of us working at stations get tired of hearing how bad things are from people no longer in the industry. Why is it that retired old white guys think they know better than those of us doing the work? I'm proud to work in radio. HD2 and streaming channels give our team the chance to take a shot at something completely different and the icing is its fun. Keep up the good work.

ps love the daily quotes and pics

Anonymous said...

22 year old ft dj and pt grad student here. totally love my job. our alt rock HD2 channel kicks butt and is way better than any ipod or ir station. the thing that creeps me and my friends out are those pasty geezers who keep saying our generation does not listen or like radio. everybody I know LOVES radio. hello its FREE. we do have the edge here with a cool student station and good local music scene. thanks for saying something positive about HD2


Mediadude said...

Totally right-on post. The key to HD is really HD2 and HD3 - more spectrum for great radio experimentation. FM was like this way back in the 60's - everyone thought it was dead until great content came along (like prog rock, etc.).

bobyoung said...

dave said...


Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Great to see you at Web 2.0

I stand with HD Radio and will continue to do so because radio must migrate to digital and to do anything less would be a significant error in business judgment.

Dave, I think you might want to think about what Sarah said, she is right and the dead horse you are whipping was never alive to begin with, it was still born, went no where, is no where now, and will go nowhere The significant error in business was putting money in a mode which is failing worldwide, ESPECIALLY here in the US since we have the worst system by far.