A recent mention in Radio World’s June Engineering Extra said it had heard that several major groups including Bonneville are now pulling back on AM-HD and re-negotiating their commitments with iBiquity.
We asked iBiquity spokesperson Vicki Stearn: “After reading the article again, my comment is that we don’t comment on rumors, but continued to be very pleased with our broadcast partners roll out of HD Radio broadcasting, which is on schedule.”
We asked Bonneville DOE Talmage Ball, who said it was not true. KTTH-AM Seattle is being delayed over figuring out some technical hurdles, but there is no other AM in the Bonneville group that is affected. “We have every commitment in the world toward AM IBOC and we’re not pulling back at all.”
We asked consultant Bob Harper (www.bobharper.com) what his thought were on AM HD:
"What I keep hearing is that none of the "quality" promises are fulfilled on HD, AM or FM. Even back when I did the national Focus Groups for HD in ’05, the industry folks and Ibiquity thought Having More Stations would be the technology’s secret sauce. The listeners did not and do not agree. For them, Better Quality and Cleaner Reception were the two biggest vote getters by far.
Talk about a problem for HD — it doesn’t deliver on the aspect potential listeners rate highest. The best way to drive around the Quality pothole is to provide content so compelling that sound quality will matter less. If a HD-2 signal was the only place to hear Radio Disney or 24/7 stock and business updates or non-stop traffic or all day WWE interviews or all NASCAR all the time, for example, the listeners would care less about how crisp and clean those offerings were (yes, traffic pun intended).
But, even if the content puzzle is solved we are left with the question of whether having an HD sub channel degrades the everyday signal. And, if so, why would it make any sense to cheapen your established product for the sake of the 1 or 2% of the total audience who might try your HD-2 format?"