U.S. radio launches first phase of $200 million HD ad campaign

Twelve major U.S. radio groups will kick off the first phase of a $200 million advertising campaign this week to inform the public about and accelerate the adoption of HD digital radio.

While satellite radio has received most of the media’s attention when it comes to new radio technology, the HD campaign is designed to educate the public about the advances in terrestrial radio and show people that there are more new listening choices than just satellite.

Specially created ads will be aired nationwide on more than 250 stations in the first 28 markets where HD Radio has been launched. The campaign is spearheaded by the HD Digital Radio Alliance and includes spots developed by longtime radio advertising specialists Dick Orkin and the Radio Ranch.

The first wave of commericals — some 16 ads in both 30- and 15-second versions — highlight HD Radio’s CD-quality sound and increased local entertainment choices.

Alliance president and CEO Peter Ferrara commented: “We’re moving much faster than originally expected. The support from radio companies has been unwavering, and since we’ve launched in the first 28 markets, response from receiver manufacturers, retailers and automakers has been extremely encouraging.”

So far, more than 700 radio stations are broadcasting their primary signals in HD digital radio. Last month, a number of broadcasting companies also announced HD2 multicast channels that collectively cover more than 250 new music formats.

However, as a Los Angeles Times article points out, one of the biggest challenges facing digital radio is that the receivers are still a bit expensive. Radio officials would like to see the price drop to around US$150 so that consumers will be more inclined to take advantage of the technology.

Right now, there are probably less than 100,000 digital radios in use nationwide. As a result, the most urgent matter for the radio industry is negotiating a deal with automakers to have digital radios installed in cars, much like the satellite radio companies are doing. So far, only BMW has agreed to provide digital receivers, but radio officials have been lobbying American automakers to follow suit.