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Airwaves: January 27, 2006

More Fun with Clear Channel

Clear Channel announced this week that it has officially launched its HD-2 service on its five Los Angeles FM stations, which means you can now hear two different formats of music on KBIG, KHHT, KIIS-FM, KOST and KYSR.

HD-2 is a second channel available on the Ibiquity HD Radio system that many stations are adopting. HD Radio a digital system that proponents say sounds better than current AM or FM, even though it's broadcast right along with the regular AM or FM signal. FM HD stations can broadcast up to eight different formats along with their main signal, though each additional channel reduces the sound quality of all the others.

The move is part of an agreement between major broadcast groups to promote the sale of HD radios. The idea is simple: sell radios by promoting special content; keep listeners to yourself. And I have to admit it's a good idea: supposed improved sound quality alone probably wouldn't sell new, (currently expensive) radios. but special content might.

Back in 2004 I even mentioned the idea of money-losing AM stations shutting off their analog signals completely and going full digital in order to try to sell radios. Back then the idea of HD-2 was not well-known. Since AM stations cannot air HD-2, perhaps the FM stations can help sell the special radios, which now cost upwards of $500.

Now that all the technical jargon is out of the way, here's what you can hear right now ... if you buy a new radio:

KBIG-2: "Disco Studio 104"
KHHT-2: "Jammin' Oldies"
KIIS-FM-2: "KIIS en Espanol"
KOST-2 "KOST Classics"
KYSR-2: "Star '80s"

Don't like any of those? By the end of February, Emmis hopes to have a bilingual version of Power 106 on its KPWR-2, while country KZLA will air an adult alternative on KZLA-2.

Not to be outdone, KCBS-FM-2 will soon feature top-40, KTWV-2 will air Classic Jazz, KLSX-2 will run female talk, KRTH-2 will feature '50s and '60s rock, and KROQ-2 will air "X-Treme Active Rock." Expect those by the end of February as well.

By June, even KLOS is expected to join the fray with "Fusion hispanic/anglo rock," whatever that means. Of course that may change, as KLOS is about ready to change owners (see below).
Will these extra formats help keep people from jumping ship to other entertainment sources such as iPods and satellite radio? I'll leave that for another day.

ABC Radio Almost Sold

Radio trade magazines and newspapers are reporting that ABC is close to making a deal to sell its radio stations to Citadel Broadcasting Corporation. The asking price? $3 million.

As of Monday, Citadel was in exclusive negotiations with ABC, which hopes to structure the sale in the most tax advantageous way. Unknown right now: is ESPN Radio, Radio Disney, or the affiliated stations part of the deal? Or would Citadel even want them?


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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