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More readers weigh in on how to number and brand HD Radio.

The idea of any type of numeric designator for a content stream is pretty silly when you think about it. In fact, with the exception of those stations with snappy frequencies (like 100, 90, 900, 101, etc.), an increasing number of broadcasters are using their network identification or a tag to encourage differentiation - hence "The UPN", "Fox", "Jack Radio" and others.

This is also one of the advantages that Satellite Radio has over broadcast: the ability to differentiate channel content with a descriptive name rather than a numeric designator. XM's "Hank's Place", "Nashville!", "Frank's Place" and "Cinemagic" tells you all you need to know about the programming on those channels. Indeed: there are even channels that carry a primary sponsor's name in the title: "Hear Music: the Voice of Music at Starbucks" - a little long-winded, but gets a sponsor's name in the channel! (Of course, EVERYONE refers to this as "Starbuck's Radio"!)

HD Radio needs to push in the same direction. Get the FCC to further relax the station identification criteria - let the stations register one or several identifications as Service Marks (SM) and those become the identification of the station. Allow several to be used interchangeably, and allow new groups to be registered every 6 months. Just because it doesn't seem to make business sense now doesn't mean that it will be stupid forever. Podcasting doesn't make any sense either, but it's influencing formats in progressive markets!

Make use of ALL the technology in the receiver to further build this differentiation. Most new radios can display text information from digital sub-carriers today, and HD radio receivers will obviously offer the same or more extensive features. Since satellite radio is limited by legacy display technology (older receivers display only 8-10 "block" characters from 11-segment LED displays), get HD manufacturers to provide better visible display technology, and use this combined with the catchy tag or format name to capture your audience.

Truly "out of the box" thinking steals from your competition and then does them one better. Let's get broadcast out of the number-call sign-format rut and let creativity and branding rule the air!

Brett Brennan
CITO
Homenode Group Inc.


The 4 digit numbering concept is an excellent idea and definitely makes sense from a marketing standpoint.

But from a consumer perspective channel numbers may not be very helpful. If the marketing message doesn't reach them, how can they discover interesting programming. Pressing seek and waiting 5 seconds between stations for channel acquisition would be very annoying.

Perhaps a more friendly way would be to use genre labels in addition to the channel numbering. Stations would transmit a genre code in their HD stream. Radios would build an internal list of available genres by quickly scanning the band upon power up or could be triggered by a button press by the consumer. The list could be accessed with a menu button on the tuner allowing the consumer to scroll thru the available genres. Interface would be similar to portable MP3 players.

Stations have already had the capability to transmit genre (program type code) for years by using RDS. I don't believe that it has ever been implemented in a consumer friendly way on RDS equipped radios.

Mike Maciejewski,
Chief Engineer
Regent Broadcasting
WFGR, WGRD, WLHT, WNWZ, WTRV
Grand Rapids, MI



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