The Meaning of
Have you heard the "commercials" littering the radio airwaves, predominantly on Sunday mornings for "HD" radio? They're not new, stations have been airing them for the better part of 4 years. They're promoting MORE, supposedly better sounding stations. If you buy an "HD" radio you could listen to literally 3x the number of stations you receive now. An FM station broadcasting at 99.9 (which is really 99.90) now has entirely different programming on adjacent frequencies of 99.85FM and 99.95FM. You can only hear these 'stations' if you have an "HD" radio, hence the stations are running these ads promoting these "HD" radio receivers.
Thus far, after 4+ years of promoting, there are about 450,000 listeners - nationally... or less than 1/10th of 10/th of 1% of the american radio listening population.
The ads you hear aren't paid commercials; they're time the stations are giving away to promote their own demise; they're asking people to go out and buy a different kind of receiver so they can tune into DIFFERENT stations. It doesn't matter that they own these "other" stations or not, the point is that broadcasters are actually promoting further listener fragmentation, which has been, for the past 20 years, a roadblock to revenue for nearly every commercial FM radio station in the country.
Fortunately, the listening public is smarter than the broadcasters, having chosen to not purchase an "HD" radio. Now some of you might be thinking, "What is Peter saying... doesn't he want more stations so he has more inventory available to run his PI clients in?" And I'd quip back, sure, I'd love more inventory, but not at the expense of response rates, due to fragmentation of listenership due to 3x the number of available stations to which to listen.
Do you know how many stations there are right now? According to the FCC there are 13,997 licensed radio stations. Some 6,300 of them are commercial FM stations. We have a more than adequate number of stations right now. There is no need to inject 3x that many... where are the listeners to these "new" HD stations going to come from? The population isn't going to grow to support it, people aren't going to abandon their ipod and other mp3 players... so where would listenership for all these extra stations come from? You guessed it... their regularly listened to radio station. The obvious (to me) consequence, should HD radio actually generate a critical mass, is that listener response rates from their traditional stations.
So I'm thankful today that HD radio is as meaningless as it is, and that it continues upon that path.