Sunday, January 9, 2011

Checking out HD-2 and HD-3 radio stations today

For about two hours today I checked out some of the HD-2 and HD-3 stations not available on regular FM radios.  I just checked my journal and saw that I bough the Accurian HD radio pictured above on October 21, 2006.  Back then 101.1 HD-1 was playing the dreaded Jack format, so I bought the HD radio to receive oldies on 101.1-HD2.  Much has changed since then.

I took a complete tour of the FM dial from 87.7 to 107.9.  Here are some of my observations:
  • The best use of HD-2 channels is to preserve formats that were lost.  Some examples:
    • 92.3-HD-2 Krock while 92.3-HD-1 is now top current hits
    • 101.9-HD-2 - smooth jazz while the parent station is rock
    • 106.7-HD-2 - country which has not been on regular FM since WYNY died in 1996
  • The next best use of HD-2 channels is the extension of the parent station
    • WFUV wins for this since 907-HD-2 allows for the regular roots of rock programming on weekends while the parent station feature special programming.
    • 97.1 plays Hip Hop and R&B while HD-2 plays older music from that genre
    • Z-100 plays contemporary hits while its HD-2 station plays new music.
    • WQXR-HD2 plays deeper classical music not heard on the parent station
  • Radio stations should not re-broadcast other stations on HD-2 or HD-3 stations
    • What is the sense of repeating WINS, WFAN, WCBS880, WNYC(AM) and WABC on HD-3?
    • Likewise what is accomplished by repeating WQXR on WNYC-HD-2
  • Other Comments
    • I only heard commercials on 95.5 HD-2 (True Oldies Channel) and 102.7-HD-2 (LastFM Discover)  The True Oldies Channel seems to be an alternative to WCBS-FM for listeners who don't like the 1980's hits
    • 101.1 HD-2 is labelled as ToNY (to New York).  It seems to be similar to be a clone of the dreaded Jack format.  Now Joe Causi is doing the liners
    • 103.5-HD2 is the Gay Pride channel offered by Clear Channel.  In the time I listened, I could not differentiate it from the parent WKTU.  At first Country music was heard on 103.5 HD2 and then moved to 106.7-HD2.  I was disappointed when Classic Lite was dropped.
    • Likewise I was disappointed when Deep Tracks was dropped on 104.3-HD-2 in favor of an active rock channel.
HD Radio has not caught on after aggressive promotion over 4 years.  I think reception problems are the major drawbacks.  I live only 8 miles from the transmitter, but often HD-2 stations drop out.  I assume this must happen in car radios as well.  The selling point is that one can receive additional programming with no commericals without a subscription like Sirius/XM.

I think the future of radio lies in internet radio.  There are more radios on the market that can pick up internet radio stations in a home Wi-fi. Many HD-2 stations are available on internet radio. As the years go by Wif-fi may become universal.  Time will tell.

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