A memo to Peter Ferrara, the new industry face of HD Radio:
So, in between talking to hardware manufacturers, automakers, and the media, let's make sure we keep our eye on the content ball. While important that new HD Radio channels display programming diversity, let's make sure we go back over the ground that terrestrial radio has cultivated over the past 30-odd years.
We were the originators of Top 40, teen-based radio. Before there was "American Idol," there was WABC, WLS, and Z100. HD Radio needs to reach out to teens with choice, innovation, and risk-taking if there's a true future for our medium. Those Arbitron graphs that show the deterioration of youth radio listening cannot be ignored. And in the process of inventing and championing formats for 12-24s, we need to change the language and the attitude in the sales departments across the country. The 25-54 mantra must come to an end, and HD Radio is the catalyst that can make it happen.
And while we're on the subject, Oldies must return to the airwaves via HD Radio in a hurry. This is another format that radio built, nurtured, and marketed - only to beat it up, make it more '70s-focused, and ultimately drive it off the FM band. We invite listeners to buy XM and Sirius to enjoy Buddy Holly, the Beach Boys, and Motown, as we write off the leading edge of the Baby Boom market.
HD Radio channels finally give commercial radio the opportunity to fix what's broken, acknowledge some mistakes, and move forward toward creating content and providing services that consumers have expected from us all along. From the research we've conducted, we still get the feeling that many long-time radio listeners would truly like to see us get it right.
Here's our chance. Good luck.