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iBiquity Reports Momentum in HD Radio

The developer notes that HD radio content is expanding with the addition of new audio formats and data services.

Austin, TX–iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of digital HD RadioT technology for AM and FM audio and data broadcasting, has announced significant momentum in the expansion of HD Radio content for HD2/HD3 multicast channels, including new audio formats and groundbreaking consumer data services. From real-time traffic and location-based concierge information about movies, sports and weather to simple on-screen program associated data, HD Radio consumer data services are rapidly becoming an important complement to audio programming. The announcement was made at the National Association of Broadcasters annual Radio Show now underway in Austin, Texas.

“We’re seeing a renaissance in radio programming and a whole new group of consumer services that have never existed before,” said Bob Struble, president and CEO of iBiquity Digital Corporation. “This is reminiscent of the early days of FM–bold experimentation, creative ideas and services, and an atmosphere of infinite possibility. It’s wonderful to see this level of talent and enthusiasm embracing HD Radio opportunities.”

In addition to dramatically improving the audio quality of radio broadcaster’s primary broadcast channel, HD Radio technology lets broadcasters to supplement their primary signal with data and additional audio channels. More than 1,750 AM and FM radio stations broadcast using the technology, and more than 900 HD2 and HD3s are on the air. HD Radio broadcasts are available to more than 84 percent of the U.S. population, with subscription-free, crystal-clear digital sound. Listeners can choose from 90 unique HD Radio receivers for their home, offices and automobiles on sale at more than 14,000 stores across the country. The technology is being included in BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln, Mercedes, MINI, Mercury, Scion and Volvo vehicles.

Fresh, creative and community-focused stations are rapidly being launched by small, medium and large radio companies as well as independent programmers:

ESPN Radio HD to Provide Content Exclusively for HD Radio Stations. With ESPN Radio HD, broadcasters can create customized, localized ESPN channels from a vast library of ESPN’s audio and data content. The ESPN Radio Network, with more than 9,000 hours of talk and event content, is also the exclusive national radio network of the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and Bowl Championship Series.

CBS Radio Launches New-to-Radio Programming. The revamp of CBS Radio’s HD2 lineup this summer resulted in several new-to-radio and crowd-pleasing formats including the Nascar Channel, the Psychic Channel and the AMP Channel – a teen-oriented Top 40 lineup. The Psychic Channel and the Nascar Channel are completely new to radio, demonstrating the flexibility and creativity broadcasters are showing with their added channel lineups.

New, Ethnic Content Slated for HD2, HD3 Channels. Emmis, NextMedia and, Bonneville are all partnering with WorldBand Media to offer ethnic programming for HD2 and HD3 channels in several major markets. The programming, aimed at the significant South Asian communities in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC and northern California, is set to launch beginning next month.

Bonneville Offers National Network for Music from Around the World. Bands can upload their music online for consideration by Bonneville International’s “iChannel,” which plays global and unsigned acts. Last month, the channel held a concert for independent artists and fans called “i-FEST” – a first for an HD Radio multicast station, and illustrating the diversity and flexibility of these stations.

Hampton Roads Uses Six Channels to Time Travel. Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications is taking multicasting to a new level with two FMs in Norfolk, Virginia. In what could be the most ambitious complementary programming strategy for HD Radio programming today, WHRO and WHRV program six digital channels daily. The main station, 89.5 WHRV (an NPR affiliate) is news/talk; the station’s HD2 channel offers a “SpeakEasy” format; and an HD3 channel airs an alternative music mix dubbed “RadioNtenna.” Meanwhile, 90.3 WHRO main channel plays classical music; its HD2 channel serves up connoisseur classics within its “Alternative Classic Music” format; and its HD3 brings listeners back to the roaring 20s via the “1920’s Radio Network” channel.

Howard University’s WHUR-FM takes NAB HD Radio Multicast Award. WHUR-WORLD HD2 combines non-traditional music, news, community involvement and information in a variety format. In addition to personality-supported shows, the station includes jazz, hip-hop and world beat music along with business, financial and domestic-violence shows. An extension of Howard University’s FM adult urban contemporary station, WHUR-WORLD HD2 will later this week receive the second annual NAB HD Radio Multicast Award here in Austin.

All of these programming efforts build on the pioneering work done in 2007 by radio groups such as Greater Media, Beasley and Clear Channel Radio.

Greater Media’s commitment to HD2 programming in both Detroit and Boston has been unmatched. Using both the brand-extension and complementary programming strategies in both markets, Greater Media created the first breakout local HD2 brands, including RIFF-2 in Detroit and Radio You Boston, a youth-oriented station programmed by and for college-age audiences, in the Massachusetts capital.

Beasley Broadcasting: Consistently the first broadcaster in its local markets to go live with HD Radio broadcasts. The radio company also launched the first country station inspired by, named after and voiced by a major country star (WKIS Gretchen 99.9 HD2). From Miami to Philadelphia to Las Vegas to Southwest Florida to Georgia, Beasley listeners have enjoyed the benefits of HD Radio first.

In early 2005, Clear Channel Radio undertook a massive programming project, creating a Format Lab that assembled 200 music enthusiasts, including some from outside the radio industry, and developed more than 75 new and unprecedented genres. Some, including the Pride Network, were the first to dedicate hosts and other personalities to an HD2 channel. At least one, Americana Bluegrass, crossed over to AM in West Virginia.

iTunes Tagging receivers now at retail. The first receivers that allow listeners to ‘tag’ and buy the songs they hear on the radio from the iTunes store are available at retailers, including Apple Stores. iPod aficionados can currently pick from the following HD Radio receivers with iTunes Tagging features: Jensen’s JiMs-525i, the JBL On Time 400iHD, the Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment System ES2 and the Sony XDR-S10HDiP. And, for the car: Alpine’s TUA-T550HD and Dual’s XHD7714.

Broadcaster Traffic Consortium developing nationwide traffic data network. In one of the more innovative uses of HD Radio datacasting to date, 12 leading broadcasters are co-developing a nationwide network to distribute real-time traffic data and location-based information via HD Radio technology with navigation-device maker NAVTEQ. The high-bandwidth capacity provided via HD Radio technology will enable consumers to obtain high-quality, up-to-date information including traffic flow and points of interest when and where they need it most. The first personal navigation device to be used with the BTC network is currently under development.

NPR to leverage HD Radio technology’s conditional access capabilities to offer services to the blind and deaf. Nine months after announcing the initiative, NPR, Towson University and Harris Corporation are preparing to launch their innovative, dedicated HD Radio channels of dead/hard-of-hearing and visually impaired listeners. For the first, NPR will broadcast a captioned radio text stream. For the latter, NPR will broadcast a “Digital Radio Reading Channel” over which text of daily newspaper, book and magazine articles will be read. The service will use HD Radio technology’s conditional access feature that allows a broadcaster to send content to only designated receivers.

Microsoft on track to launch location-based information service in Q1 2009. Microsoft remains on track for its plan to field its MSN Direct HD location-based HD Radio service in the first quarter of 2009. The MSN Direct HD content suite includes current traffic information from Clear Channel Total Traffic Network as well as a radio program guide, weather, gas prices, movie information, news and stock information, ‘send destination to GPS’ and more.