Saturday, October 6, 2007

HD Radio: A Stumble Out of the Gate?

I’ve saved up $500, but I want three toys. I want one of those new video iPods ($399), an international Treo-type phone ($299-$499), and a new HD Radio ($499 at the time of this writing). So I have a problem. I can only really afford one of these competing new technologies right now.

For the past six years or so, I’ve been intently watching the rollout of digital radio throughout the world. I’ve watched the battles between the competing digital technologies and I’ve watched the stumbles of the rollout in England . It was stagnant for eight years, but is now finally kicking in.

I’m a radio junkie and a large portion of my business comes from radio stations that are invested – literally – in the HD Radio rollout. So as the PR machine started winding up, the second channels started hitting the air, and stations started promoting them, I had a thought: “This thing had better work.”

So with that, I started asking my friends and peers in the business if anybody had a radio. I got two universal responses: “No,” and “I think the engineers have one.” I really couldn’t find anyone outside the engineering community who had experienced HD.