Interesting story in the 7/8/2008 USA Today about “digital radio” in cars. Seems that Hyundai’s new Genesis Sedan and several Volvos will soon have an HD Radio as STANDARD equipment. Very cool. If more car companies begin incorporating HD as STANDARD…life would be happy happy joy joy.

My experience with automotive HD is probably not a typical experience for “real auto-radio consumers”. Being a radio insider qualifies me as (and I quote) “that wise-guy over there who claims to have a knack for knowing just what the HD thing is”. Accordingly, when I placed an order for a BMW X5 last November, I specifically ordered the HD Radio Option. ($500…certainly NOT standard equipment.) My car salesman mistakenly commented that HD was the “Satellite Radio thing”. When I corrected him, he then thought HD was “the surround sound thing”. I had to give him a little primer on just what HD actually is. While I was  delivering my best “HD Radio Is Not Satellite Speech”, he was pretending to listen but was actually thinking about…potato chips…I think. Several months later when the car was delivered, I had to do a quick Self-Zen-Instruction on how to operate in the HD mode since no one at the dealer had the slightest clue.

You see where I’m going with this. The people who should “get it”…don’t. We all know why this is, (we insiders have a “knack for knowing” remember?)  Hopefully the automobile marketing department(s) will be able to explain it so their customers (drivers) understand it and actually (gasp) listen to HD. I hope Hyundai and Volvo “HDfamiliarize” (new word) their employees. If not, maybe we “know it all” radio people should go bring them up to speed. Go Kick some HD Radio tires so-to-speak. Or at the very least share some Potato Chips.

USA Today also has TWO other articles in the same paper about HD Radio in General. One good…one not so good. But crucial publicity non the less.

5 thoughts

  1. “DEAD AIR: Radio’s Great Leap Forward stalling in the Valley”

    “Nearly two years after the Valley’s four Clear Channel stations went HD, several high-end car manufacturers have promised to offer HD radios as an option on new models. But while Ford announced in September that it offers the radios as dealer-installed upgrades — as have Mini, Volvo, Jaguar and BMW — local Ford and Lincoln dealers had not heard of HD and said they don’t offer the option.”

    “Are Ford and HD Radio in Sync?”

    “The radio industry will, of course, promote Ford for free in exchange for this development as part of the presumably soon-to-expire pledge of airtime to the HD radio effort.”

    Ford only has interest in HD Radio for the free publicity, as with all other auto manufacturers, and Ford is an investor in iBiquity. iBiquity does not have the funds to entice automakers with synergies, as with Satellite Radio, and it costs automakers $45/per HD Radio to install. Besides, automakers do no like HD Radio because of the dropouts, poor coverage, and acqusition times on the HD1 channels. Only automakers, with certain models that are doing poorly, as with Scion and Hyundai, agrre to install HD Radio because of the free publicity. Chrysler and BMW are installing Internet access in 2009, so say eventualy good-bye to HD and Satelite Radio, With HD Radio, not all appears as it really is. No doubt, all other automakers will follow.

  2. “If more car companies begin incorporating HD as STANDARD…life would be happy happy joy joy.”

    For whom???? ibquity and the IBOC Alliance and others who make money from this junk technology? Anyone else? Don’t think so, the return rate with HD radios has been astronomical. They don’t work anywhere near as good as any other type of over the air transmissions. You’re lucky to get more than a 5-10 mile range out of them, the sound is no better and usually worse than an analog radio and last of all it creates adjacent channel interference which will only get worse if this boondoogle is allowed to go on. Luckily most consumers have given HD the big yawn as they realize there are so many better options around today including good old fashioned analog. Don’t waste your money on this technological nightmare. Go to Best Buy, Walmart, Circuit city etc (all the, ahem…. upscale high end hifi places who purport to carry IBOC merchandise), look around, how many do you see? If you actually see one does it work? Can you pick up ANY stations in HD? No? Ask the salemen about it, usually they will mumble something about it doesn’t work in buildings, DOESN’T WORK IN BUILDINGS?? and then they will usually steer you towards Satellite which does work as promised. HD is the biggest lead balloon to hit since the Edsel except for one difference: people knew about the Edsel.

    Bob Young
    Millbury, mA

  3. Tim,

    I love you’re writing style! We see this most of the time, not only in car dealerships but in most industries that change as quick as the technology field.

    Owners/dealerships go to get on track with training their staff and ensuring the customers feel comfortable with what they’re buying.

    I remember when GPS just came out and I asked a car salesman to show me how it works with a quick demo, as soon as he said, “uh..I think,” I said, “never mind, I’ll figure it out.”

    This guy must of had a potato chip craving as well!!

    Keep writing,


  4. It looks like more and more auto manufacturers are incorporating HD radios – at least as an option. While I’m an HD radio fan, I can see why it would be an option. Why burden the car buyer with the cost of something he or she may not want? If and when I buy my next car, I want to be able to decide what kind of radio I want – rather then the manufacturer making that choice for me.

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