As some stations end HD Radio signals, others hold out hope for audience adoption


By Tyler Falk Tyler Falk

February 16, 2021

Changes spurred by the pandemic have prompted two public broadcasters to scale back their use of HD Radio, the heavily promoted technology that never quite caught on despite its promises of better sound quality and new programming streams.

Last fall, Wisconsin Public Radio ended more than half of its HD Radio services after its state licensee urged it to cut costs. Meanwhile, Oregon Public Broadcasting stopped producing an HD music stream in part because the pandemic has stifled volunteer participation.

HD Radio rolled out more than a decade ago, with CPB providing grants to help convert hundreds of stations’ transmitters to the technology. But listeners need digital radios to enjoy the higher-fidelity broadcasts and tune into the digital subchannels that some stations use for additional news and music services. With that hurdle in place, adoption has been slow.

According to last year’s Public Radio Techsurvey, conducted by Jacobs Media in partnership with Public Radio Program Directors Association, 14% of respondents — most of whom were selected from public radio stations’ databases — said they use HD Radio. That’s up from 6% in the 2012 version of the survey but still puts HD Radio near the bottom of all technology used by the respondents. By comparison, the 2020 survey showed that 67% of respondents use streaming audio or connect phones in their cars, neither of which Jacobs measured in 2012.

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  1. Well, I think the answer is clear and the blame falls on manufacturers of car radios, and home stereos for FAILING to put the technology into their products all because they want to keep using the old cheap tech that costs nothing to keep regurgitating. It should have been MANDATED that ALL stereos/radios come with HD being sold in Canada. Just like AM Stereo, it fails because greedy manufacturers want to keep pumping out the cheap garbage and selling it overpriced.

  2. I tend to agree with Ron. If the technology is everywhere it will get used. Maybe if it still fails it wasnt meant to be. I know I own 3 older vehicles and I would be more likely to want satellite
    radio equipped vehicles because an HD signal might improve NWs range and sound but it cant improve the content

  3. I have HD radio in my car and for those stations that simu-broadcast their signal on HD, it is the only way I can actually hear what they are saying when I am driving anywhere near the hydrobus overhead cables.

    It should be standard on any bottom trim automobile.


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