Home JacoBLOG Services About Contact
JacoBlog - Jacobs Media's Blog: HD Radio's New Campaign
My Photo

Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


Bookmark and Share

August 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

« Research As Marketing | Main | Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree »


David Martin


Agree with your take. Peter Ferrara should do the right thing and put this new creative on hold. We need a time out for a candid and serious industry conversation. This new creative will not get the job done, it's not going to sell more radios or advance with any significance the adoption of HD Radio.


Thanks so much for the comments, Dave. And your blog makes some great points, too. http://davemartin.blogspot.com/


HD Radio jams our broadcast bands and is a giveaway to iBiquity and the HD Alliance:



"DEAD AIR: Radio's great leap forward stalling in the Valley"

"Retailers say no one is buying HD radios in South Texas despite scattered attempts by broadcasters to promote the digital signal technology..."


"HD Radio Has Yet To Take Off"

"But the technology hasn't taken off as expected. NBC 5 could not find one person who owns a hi-def radio and neither could KISS FM's program director. I don't know anybody that has one yet, Davis said."


Yea, they are selling a zillion HD radios!

Greg Gillispie

Sooo...HD sucks and radio is all you need? Or was that radio sucks and you need to have HD? Or is it these are such confusing spots no one will understand them?

The correct answer - all 3.

Don Beno

Why aren't we concentrating on the product FIRST?

Give the consumer a REASON to pay money for these HD radios. Commercial free (at least for now) you say? So what....I can find you a half-dozen sources where a consumer can get commercial free music. Let's take away at least one lesson from Satellite radio...they did...in most cases... provide compelling formats and PERSONALITIES.

Or how about a lesson from Starbucks. They actually got people to (at least ocassionally) change a habit of grabbing a cup of coffee at the gas station or local McDonald's and visiting their stores for the priviledge of paying MORE for what was percieved as a QUALITY product.


BTW, compelling means more than just a deep playlist.

Jim Wood

SOMEBODY MAKE IT STOP!....I am rarely amazed at the lack of common sense radio people have from time to time but the HD spots leave be stunned. I doubt that many owners and operators would like to kill their cash cows to further the HD cause. Here is an idea...Why not try a positive approach outlining the benefits of HD as compared to Satellite or Internet radio. In my experience people have always responded to "FREE." Or, How About checking with some Pro-Radio people before they launch a new campaign to take a direct shot at the business that pays the bills.

Joel Raab


Just listened to the spots. You are on the money. And they are confusing even if you understand them.

Happy Holidays!


Peter Ferrara - HD Radio Alliance

Fred (an all) –

We're sorry you didn't enjoy the spots. We are working with an one of the top brand building ad agencies in the country that's done great things for clients like Southwest Airlines, BMW, MasterCard, AT&T and the PGA Tour. We explained our challenge, the current status of HD Radio and asked them for their honest evaluation and recommendation.

It's completely natural for all of us in the radio business to bristle at the thought that not everyone shares our passion and commitment to our medium. The truth is that these spots aren't aimed at you and me - and we need to have the courage to engage the folks we're trying to reach in a way that speaks to the way they see it. And when we connect with them on that, authentic level, we can hope to re-engage them in what's outstanding about radio.

In the meantime, all of us in radio's inner circle have an opportunity to trust in the experience and the track record of an ad agency that's been here before.

David Martin


You're being intellectually dishonest to wit: SW, BMW, MC and AT&T were established brands long before the engagement of your unnamed agency; the proper qualification needed would seem to be a proven track record of successfully
launching new, previously unknown, brands in the marketplace - you have provided no such credential with your comment. I again respectfully request you do the right thing and put this creative on hold, take a time out, open a candid and serious discussion with the industry. Should you be right, should you and your agency have the research to prove this approach to be sound, to be the best possible creative needed to get the job done then share it. We can then all move forward together with the knowledge that we are, indeed, doing the right thing.

Dan Kelley

Late to the party. And now the spot downloads are password protected; so I cannot hear (waiting for the "bootlegs" to show up on the web).

That all said - where do the broadcasters in the HD Radio "Alliance" stand on these spots?

Just asking.


Peter, thanks for chiming in with your comments. I understand your defense of the campaign. But I think you need to understand that there's no shortage of "deprecation" of radio out there. Our beleagured industry does not need self-inflicted criticism or even light-hearted taunting. Consumer perceptions that broadcast radio is lame, repetitive, or out of step was a major finding from the study the NAB commissioned earlier this year. For the Alliance to produce commercials that draws even more attention to radio's shortcomings - even with humor - crosses the line. That's why the Mac versus Windows commercials are so devastingly effective. One looks bad at the other's expense - funny or not. How Alliance stations will react to running them on their own air, at their own expense, remains to be seen. I believe that everyone "gets" that in a crowded, fluid, fast-changing media environment, HD Radio is a tough putt. But to attempt to divide and separate Radio - AM/FM from HD - in an effort to make one look good at the expense of the other is a tactic that is more than a little questionable. If asked, I will advise my clients to write and produce commercials of their own, rather than run this campaign. I appreciate you - and the other commenters - taking the time to respond. If you decide to again make the commercials freely available so that everyone can hear them and judge for themselves, please let us know.


From Randy Kabrich - an article in USA Today earlier in the week about all things HD, including unscientific observations about HD Radio. "HD Stands for 'Hot Dog!'"


Robert D Young Jr KB1OKL

Being a radio amateur, I live in the real world of radio, not in the ivory towers of the IBOC Alliance. Never mind these lousy commercials. IBOC is and was aways a lousy idea, it interferes with neighboring stations, has reduced range and just plain sounds bad on analog radio which in case anyone has forgotten here comprises 99.9999% of all radios in existence. It took colossal gall to think that a new system as bad as IBOC would come along and bulldoze radio listeners into buying a new expensive, insensitive piece of krap to receive an almost universally panned mode of broadcasting. You could give these things away door to door and they still wouldn't be successful, you'd find them in the cellar next to the 8 track player. This technology has been a bigger lead balloon than the Edsel. It is the Titanic of our time.

Robert C. Savage

I absolutely love it! Only the HD Alliance and Peter Ferrara could come up with a radio marketing strategy buying into public "deprecation" of radio. Sure, as long as we're promoting a defective and outmoded technology, let's actively participate in our own demise by presenting a negative self-image of radio! How about instead using common sense and courage and respecting the time-honored practice of promising a benefit to the consumer, instead of using critics' weapons to publicly disparage ourselves? I can't concur with Mr. Ferrara's blind trust of the creative instincts of ad agencies. They're hardly infallible. Anybody remember the rousing success of that swell Chrysler "Dr. Z" TV campaign??

Ben Reed

IBOC is the biggest fizzle to ever hit. Technically it is a piece of cow puckey. The FM power penetrates only 1/3 of the analog signal, and for those who lock on, there is only a modest amount of audio improvement. HD Radio HAS SCREWED AM, putting the analog down to 3khz, killing skywave and DX. You have to be some 10 miles of a 50kw xmtr. to pick it up and the audio is tinny. GIVE ME CAM-D before I go crazy, not endless profit streams for Ibiquity and crappy reception. ANALOG FM processed right and CAM-D AM are king and the people have spoken. Stop KILLING the regular band with JUNK SCIENCE and CRAP. Yes, I've heard it, yes I work in radio management and HELL NO, I don't want HD-Radio. If it ain't broke, why fix it?


Does anyone at the HD Alliance realize that consumers no longer buy radios, but only occasionally, things with radios in them? Has anyone seen a "radio department" at Radio Shack, Best Buy, or the-like, in the last 10 - 15 years? The ONLY way HD Radio has a chance, as Mark Ramsey has pointed out, is to be forced transparently onto consumers and the auto industry, by terrestrial radio subsidizing iBiquity's HD licensing and chipset fees - unfortunately, this would take faith in HD Radio and funds, which broadcasters do not have, with their stocks in penny-stock range, now. Trying to market an out-dated, technically flawed product is sheer-madness. Putting a new "spin" on HD Radio is NOT going to help - consumers have been bombarded with HD commercials for the past 1 1/2 years, but have voted "NO" with their wallets. Consumers are now laughing at the HD Radio commercials, so one can imagine my reaction. I have been DXing AM radio for 40 years, and never dreamed that a once-proud industry would stoop to selling this snake-oil product, as an attempt to prop-up a declining industry. Peter, this is a pathetic and sad day for the radio industry.


Peter Ferrera,

I would like to add, that not only is HD/IBOC destroying AM radio, but is now pitting AM broadcasters against each other with FCC interference complaints (e.g., WYSL vs WBZ); at some point in the past, broadcasters used to be cooperative, but now this cancer is destroying the very fabric of your industry. BTW, FM-HD has now been proven to cause adjacent-channel interference:

"What Are We Doing to Ourselves, Exactly?"

"IBOC FM Interference Has Been Reported in Several Cases Where FCC Contours Provide Inadequate Protection."


Kudos to the HD Alliance and iBiquity!

David Martin

Peter's comment reminds me of the line attributed to Groucho Marks "...who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes." At a time when radio's digital strategy includes betting its life on HD Radio, the Alliance is telling radio professionals "Who you gonna believe, our agency or your own ears."

Bob Wood

Where's the logic? Where's the emotion? (Sales is usually one , the other, or both.)

If it's "what you listen to now sucks" then the goose is cooked. Quality difference is negligible to people who have run amok with mp3 data reduction sounding crappy through little cheap ear buds. Higher quality SACD failed with a high fidelity thud. Record companies hammer the crap out of new releases to make them loud with no dynamic range, no nuance, ambience, sucking the art out of the pitch corrected and beat-fixed tunes.

If it's "better choices" you'll need proof of a notable difference. Proof on the order of, oh, say, MTV when it launched, or even Saturday Night Live - stuff that people talked and cared about. I doubt that's going to happen when the programmers are men and women who have other stations to 'do' and probably honestly don't even buy into the concept.

A better alternative might be to strip HD from radio operators.

As for the SELLING of the receivers, a trip to the Austin FRYs some months ago offered impossible reception and no good reason to want one of these uncheap 'radios' - you know what? Their display was the 'regular radio' equivalent of a promotion intern sitting behind a card table draped in roll-a-banner at a "remote." A.k.a.: boring!

HD at low bitstream rates is an audio delusion. HD radio as envisioned by the alliance is an illusion. What we need is a revolution.

Matthew Reid


GREAT points! I couldn't agree more.

The current campaign aside, the biggest problem HD faces, in my opinion, seems to be the lack of any real BENEFIT (perceived or otherwise) to the consumer. It's pretty easy to explain the benefits of HD Radio's competition...

* AM/FM - Free, everywhere
* iPod - MY Music, anytime and anywhere I want it
*XM/Sirius - Commercial free, variety, great programming (MLB, NBA, NFL, Fox Radio in the car, etc.)

What exactly are the benefits to HD radio?

(cue crickets sfx)

* Commercial free (for now)
* Formats that aren't presently available in the market? (but in most places I can receive HD Radio, I can get those format via the Internet)

Not to mention, we're asking people to spend $200 minimum for some clunky receiver that is far from portable (unlike the sat-rad models which all stress portability, i.e, the radios move from car to home to office.)

And let's be honest, exactly how much time is being spent "programming" these HD-Radio channels?


HD-Radio is attmepting to launch a new platform with content that, pretty much blows. (Come on, you wanted to say it, too!)

You want to see HD-Radio equipment sales? How 'bout some good old fashioned KILLER CONTENT?!
How about some GREAT radio stations. GREAT formats with GREAT talent who are PASSIONATE about the music they play and the lifestyle they represent? Then, how about marketing THOSE STATIONS in their respective markets?

As presently programmed (with few exceptions) and marketed, HD-Radio is likely to end up the Edsel of the airwaves. Although, it could survive if the technology becomes ubiquitous (i.e., if/when HD-Radio is included with all new radios and in all new cars where listeners can "stumble upon" the programming transparently, and can sample it without weighing its value against a high cost.)

The other question is, if it does survive, will we someday shake our heads in disbelief at our lack of vision? Will our under-utlization and paltry programming efforts be compared to the opporunity operators missed with FM radio prior to the 1970s?

We marvel at stories of FM stations being "thrown in" with the sale of an AM. Some of us remember early FM programming consisting of a box in a corner...or a wire coming off the satellite, directly to the transmitter. Format 41, anyone? Or combos with fully staffed AM stations and zero FM employees. (Whoever was given the token title of Program Director didn't even bother including it on their business card it was considered such a joke.) Many combos just simulcasted the AM station on the FM.

Is our current attitude toward programming our HD-2 properties another case of history repeating? Will our barebones jukebox mentality be treated any differently by history? Or will they laugh at us, too, sometime in the not too distant future?

Who knows.

One thing I do know, is that current HD-radio programming isn't moving the needle on hardware sales. Despite a billion dollars in free advertising, nobody cares. We're shoving this thing down people's throats and they just aren't swallowing it.

The real question seems to be, would great programming and subsequent marketing of those stations make a difference?

I'd like to see The Alliance market test the idea. Decide on a city/region. Come up with several viable formats and put WORLD CLASS PROGRAMMING on them. Treat them like 100,000 Watt FMs in NYC. Try to create the best radio stations in the world, regardless of delivery medium. We're talking research, talent, contsts. SUPER-SERVE the market. And, finally, market the benefits of those stations to the target demos instead of selling the HD-Radio brand.

I'm not 100% convinced, but I think that approach has the best chance of working. Again, the cookie cutter, plain jane vanilla, format in a box, automation schemes aren't attracting anybody.

Just my opinion--I'd love to hear thoughts on the matter!

Matthew L.A. Reid


Matthew, great comments, and a great example of how it would be great if the Alliance tapped into some of the passionate radio people who would love to contribute to the initiative. You've come up with some solid thoughts, and - while I'm biased - Detroit would strike me as a great test market, by virtue of RIFF 2, a well-programmed HD2 station. This market has always responded to great radio, and personalties like Steve Dahl, Dick Purtan, Howard Stern, J.P. McCarthy, and Arthur Penhallow all either became famous here, or spent some of their formative years on the radio in the Motor City. Peter, if you're still reading this thread - already more than 20 comments strong during a holiday weekend - we'd love to hear your thoughts.


paul vincent zecchino

Larry Langford in Radio World this week spoke volumes when he quoted his mentor on HD: "HD FM is junk science. HD AM is science fiction.'

HD cheerleaders are masterfully projective. They accuse AM/FM of being buggy whip technology. Do they realize, if anything's lame, repetitive, and old fashioned, it's the endlessly droned manipulative nonsense issuing from the HD bund?

HD? Here's the juice:

Older consumers reject it.
Younger one's laugh at it.
Manufacturers dislike it.
Retailers can't sell it.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida

Jack Taddeo

When you are sailing in a boat built with your own two hands it is hard to admit you're sinking.

Regardless of WHAT an ad agency creative type thinks (and let's be honest, we know they generally think that iPods rock and Radio sucks) I doubt that pissing in our own cornflakes in order to get a fresh bowl is a good idea. Creativity without factual basis is simply junk.

The HD alliance has now aligned itself against non-HD alliance members.

If you assume (as the ad agency apparently is) that there is MUCH BETTER CONTENT on the other side of analog--on those HD channels--then maybe there is a kernal of a marketing plan there. But we all know that there is precious little compelling contant on any of the alliance member's stations, many of which are barely programming anything past an automated jukebox of "all 80s" or other non-essential music. And the response from the public is likely to be nill.

Mark Lipsky

Fred -

Ding! Ding! And may I add, Ding! Just as I still cringe when Station X tries to close a sale by saying Station Y stinks, throwing AM+FM under the bus to promote HD is simply the wrong way to market HD technology.

Any creative professional knows there are infinite ways to address, attack and solve a problem. Amongst those possibilities are countless ways to deliver the new baby without cursing its parents for conception.

I run one of America's few "radio only" ad agencies. And for all the success we've had in helping national brands use the medium correctly, our batting average is less than 1.000. Hey, we're only human.

If our agency received such an overwhelming pushback from the industry we were trying to promote, we'd be back in the studios today working to make it right. Period.


The comments to this entry are closed.