HD-2 At Two

Written Dec. 10, 2008 by Sean Ross in HD Radio with 3 Comments

Two years ago, I took advantage of a $99 Radio Shack special and bought an HD Radio.

Fifteen months ago, I chronicled my experiences since then. The barely processed multicast stations of two years ago sounded a little better, but there weren't many more of them available. And even those of us who wanted HD Radio to work had to acknowledge the overall lack of station resources, the greater traction of other new platforms, the dubious creative being deployed on HD Radio's behalf, and stations that didn't manage to stay on the air consistently from day-to-day.

I could still write that column. But something interesting happened this week went I went back for another scan across the HD radio dial. Specifically, there are now 20 multicast stations available to me, twice as many as I encountered on my first visit two years ago. New NYC-area stations since the last survey include:

* 89.5 WSOU-HD-2 - Seemingly block programmed but doing Christian rock when I heard them tonight;
* 92.3 WXRK-HD-2 - Running the Alternative "K-Rock 2";
* 95.5 WPLJ-HD-3 - Not an additional signal from two years ago, but of greater utility to me since it began running Scott Shannon's "True Oldies Channel";
* 101.3 WCBS-HD-3 - Now simulcasting all-News WCBS-AM;
* 101.9 WRXP-HD-3 - Smooth Jazz since WQCD's departure in February;
* 102.7 WWFS-HD-2 - Norm Winer's Triple-A/Classic Rock "WNEW";
* 105.9 WCAA-HD-2 - All-salsa "La Kalle Dos"

Still MIA: WQHT-HD-3's planned South Asian format brokered by Worldband Media. It was announced in September and was supposed to be here in late October.

Now on the air, but not audible in my part of Northern New Jersey: WFUV-HD-3's Alternative format.

Okay, that's a net gain of six stations in 15 months. I heard that many pirate stations as I sat in Lincoln Tunnel traffic last night. I can get the entire AOL/CBS Radio suite of stations by opening my AOL Instant Messenger now. And I don't have to move an antenna to one the three different places in my den required to pick up various signals.

But doing the math on the stations tonight vs. two years ago did come as a little bit of a surprise; put it together with an increased number of radios near that $99 price point (only available as a special in 2006), and the recent use of HD-2 multicasts to provide programming to an FM translator (meaning that stations might actually put some resources into those stations now) and you can see the industry continuing to trudge on, despite the calls to move on.

Reader Comments

Your 2¢, in chronological order — add your comment below.
1  Tom Lawler on December 11, 2008 12:06 AM

Sean,

Interesting that this column should pop up tonight - I just got a new Sony XDR-F1HD (around $80 online) in the mail, and have been putting the unit thru its paces at home here in Central Jersey.

Aside from getting most of the Philly FM's in HD with just the supplied 'T' antenna (something that didnt happen with either of my previous two home HD radios), I have a compelling reason - all Xmas on 3 stations had me listening to the HD-2's to escape Bing & Andy.

Things have improved - WOGL's All 70's HD-2 had jingles, creative imaging, clean processing, and played everything from Lynn Anderson to Bonnie Pointer to Queen.

With the power increase possibly coming, and cheaper & better tuners like the Sony hitting the market, HD stands a chance to make it. I wish there were better options on the HD-2 front (Smooth Jazz & Classic Oldies), but what I have now is better that what was out there two years ago.

2  Drew on December 11, 2008 3:35 PM

Can't monetize HD, so can't care about it.

I don't agree with that statement, but I guarantee it's been said in every GM's office across the country.

3  Lou P. on December 11, 2008 10:16 PM

I have an HD radio on my Christmas list -- it seems that (slowly) there are more and more HD stations coming on board.

I'd love to see Cox put Bubba the Love Sponge on KISS-FM's HD2 signal in San Antonio, if for nothing else to see if a major drawing card on an HD2 signal could drive people to get into the format.

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