HD multicast programming ideas examined


At the NAB Radio Show yesterday, "HD Programming: The New Frontier" featured  Michael Albl, Vice President/General Manager – Format Lab, Clear Channel Radio; Don Kelly, Director of Broadcast Marketing, iBiquity Digital; Cynthia Morgan, SVP – Corporate Development, Delmarva Broadcasting  and Andy Mussaw, Managing Partner, Graffiti Radio, Wilmington, DE. 

The session was moderated by Charlie Cook, VP/ Country, Cumulus Media. Right off the bat, it was mentioned there are two classes of HD multicasts: Those that offer formats complimentary to the main signal and those that offer totally different formats. The overall recommendation was to offer something different-to offer listeners more choices in each market, for one.

Another initial discussion was Delmarva’s Graffiti Radio, WSTW-HD-2 Wilmington, DE, which was borne out of an exploratory group of folks under 30-no management. They were challenged to do things differently by Delmarva’s Pete Booker and Cynthia Morgan. Andy Mussaw, in his 20s, runs the station. The station is still voiced tracked, but features younger-skewing Alternative music with local bands mixed in. One of the DJs is a local high school girl, others are from the CT School of Broadcasting.

Riff2 in Detroit (WRIF-HD2 and CC Radio’s Pride Radio in 4 major markets were hailed as great new successful HD multicast format examples.
Don Kelly made a very good point in the session: "Don’t give the PD of your main signal the HD multicast signal as well."

Some facts brought up from the session:
* 1,500 stations are now in HD; 700 include multicast channels
* Several hundred thousand HD Radios have now been sold, ranging in price from 100 dollars (Radiosophy) to 3,000 dollars (Day Sequerra).
* The Format Lab formats are now on 296 Clear Channel stations
* You can block program and LMA your multicast channels.
* The Format Lab’s 87 Channels will soon be on 800 websites (CC Radio and others) and on Sprint Mobile Phones.
* The Format Lab employs 82 programmers and 200 production folks.
* After FCC final approval on 9/14 you can sell ads on your multicast channels, unless you are part of the HD Radio Alliance.
* The HD Alliance is deciding at the show when and how to monetize multicast channels for their member stations.
* Stations get paid by Apple for allowing their HD signals to include iTagging.
* AM stations are using the HD data capacity now for news talk and sports formats. I.e. a sports ticker or stock ticker.

RBR/TVBR observation: Graffiti Radio is a good example of putting radio back into the hands of younger folks. You want them back in radio? Let them be involved in it-program it with their new music. Let them see the local reach radio has. If each market has a few indie/Alternative/techno/free-form channels programmed by a bunch of college age (or high school) locals in the community, both listeners and advertisers will take notice. Promote it with the main signal! The channels can be block programmed-look at Sirius 26’s Blog Radio for a great example from noon-2PM weekdays. We used to have college stations that did that in many markets, but most of them now just play NPR news 24/7 and Classical. Commercial radio has a great opportunity here-a wide open opportunity. Let’s take it.