NAB: HD Radio content sees strong momentum


iBiquity Digital announced significant momentum in the expansion of HD Radio content for HD2/HD3 multicast channels, including new audio formats and groundbreaking consumer data services at the NAB Radio Show in Austin.

"We’re seeing a renaissance in radio programming and a whole new group of consumer services that have never existed before," said Bob Struble, iBiquity CEO. "This is reminiscent of the early days of FM – bold experimentation, creative ideas and services, and an atmosphere of infinite possibility. It’s wonderful to see this level of talent and enthusiasm embracing HD Radio opportunities."

Fresh, creative and community-focused stations are rapidly being launched by small, medium and large radio companies as well as independent programmers:

ESPN Radio HD to Provide Content Exclusively for HD Radio Stations. With ESPN Radio HD, broadcasters can create customized, localized ESPN channels from a vast library of ESPN’s audio and data content. The ESPN Radio Network, with more than 9,000 hours of talk and event content, is also the exclusive national radio network of the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and Bowl Championship Series.

The revamp of CBS Radio’s HD2 lineup this summer resulted in several new-to-radio formats including the Nascar Channel, the Psychic Channel and the AMP Channel – a teen-oriented Top 40 lineup. The Psychic Channel and the Nascar Channel are completely new to radio, demonstrating the flexibility and creativity broadcasters are showing with their added channel lineups.

New, Ethnic Content Slated for HD2, HD3 Channels. Emmis, NextMedia and Bonneville are all partnering with WorldBand Media to offer ethnic programming for HD2 and HD3 channels in several major markets. The programming, aimed at the significant South Asian communities in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC and northern California, is set to launch beginning next month.

Bonneville Offers National Network for Music from Around the World. Bands can upload their music online for consideration by Bonneville’s "iChannel," which plays global and unsigned acts. Last month, the channel held a concert for independent artists and fans called "i-FEST" – a first for an HD Radio multicast station, and illustrating the diversity and flexibility of these stations.

Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications is taking multicasting to a new level with two FMs in Norfolk, Virginia. In what could be the most ambitious complementary programming strategy for HD Radio programming today, WHRO and WHRV program six digital channels daily. The main station, 89.5 WHRV (an NPR affiliate) is news/talk; the station’s HD2 channel offers a "SpeakEasy" format; and an HD3 channel airs an alternative music mix dubbed "RadioNtenna." Meanwhile, 90.3 WHRO main channel plays classical music; its HD2 channel serves up connoisseur classics within its "Alternative Classic Music" format; and its HD3 brings listeners back to the roaring 20s via the "1920’s Radio Network" channel.

WHUR-WORLD HD2 combines non-traditional music, news, community involvement and information in a variety format. In addition to personality-supported shows, the station includes jazz, hip-hop and world beat music along with business, financial and domestic-violence shows. An extension of Howard University’s FM adult urban contemporary station, WHUR-WORLD HD2 will later this week receive the second annual NAB HD Radio Multicast Award here in Austin.

iTunes Tagging receivers now at retail. The first receivers that allow listeners to ‘tag’ and buy the songs they hear on the radio from the iTunes store are available at retailers, including Apple Stores. iPod aficionados can currently pick from the following HD Radio receivers with iTunes Tagging features: Jensen’s JiMs-525i, the JBL On Time 400iHD, the Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment System ES2 and the Sony XDR-S10HDiP. And, for the car: Alpine’s TUA-T550HD and Dual’s XHD7714.

Broadcaster Traffic Consortium developing nationwide traffic data network. In one of the more innovative uses of HD Radio datacasting to date, 12 leading broadcasters are co-developing a nationwide network to distribute real-time traffic data and location-based information via HD Radio technology with navigation-device maker NAVTEQ. The high-bandwidth capacity provided via HD Radio technology will enable consumers to obtain high-quality, up-to-date information including traffic flow and points of interest when and where they need it most. The first personal navigation device to be used with the BTC network is currently under development.

NPR to leverage HD Radio technology’s conditional access capabilities to offer services to the blind and deaf. Nine months after announcing the initiative, NPR and Towson University are preparing to launch their innovative, dedicated HD Radio channels of dead/hard-of-hearing and visually impaired listeners. For the first, NPR will broadcast a captioned radio text stream. For the latter, NPR will broadcast a "Digital
Radio Reading Channel" over which text of daily newspaper, book and magazine articles will be read. The service will use HD Radio technology’s conditional access feature that allows a broadcaster to send content to only designated receivers.

Microsoft on track to launch location-based information service in Q1 2009. Microsoft remains on track for its plan to field its MSN Direct HD location-based HD Radio service in the first quarter of 2009. The MSN Direct HD content suite includes current traffic information from Clear Channel Total Traffic Network as well as a radio program guide, weather, gas prices, movie information, news and stock information, ‘send destination to GPS’ and more.