Half Finished

Today, I am a TV repairman.  The new bulb came for the TV, and I installed it.  The TV seems to work just fine now, though we won’t really be able to test it until the receiver comes from Dish Network … and they say it will likely be tomorrow or Saturday before that arrives.

The good news is, they’ll pro-rate the bill.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to hook everything up propery so that it will all continue to work.  One cable at a time, or lots of time with a label maker.

Full disclosure.  I manage a radio station that offers HD and HD Mulitcast services. I hold stock in Sirius Satellite Radio.  I’m not a subscriber.  Just a small stake, mind you, but I have a few shares.  To continue —

I was reading today some mostly-old blogs about HD Radio, and I was amazed at the amount of vitriol that was directed at HD Radio by those that were XM or Sirius subscribers … and the amount that was directed back by the HD Radio fans.  I have to say, though, that the satellite radio guys were worse … and it was almost all guys.  I don’t know that I read a single comment from a woman.

The thing about HD Radio is, and I’ve kind of watched both that and satellite radio from the beginning, is that HD is right now where satellite was about 4-5 years ago when it comes to receiver distribution.   They were expensive, and there was a big question as to whether or not people would, on an ongoing basis, pay for what they could mostly receive over the air for free or by buying a CD.  In my opinion, the jury is still out on the long-term viability of that business model.

I think a lot of the downright meanness I read was from people from both camps justifying their choice.  I do have an HD radio in my car.  I do like the improvement in quality, at least on our station.  I have to admit that the rock stations I occasionally listen to so compress their signals that’s it’s difficult to tell when they’re broadcasting an HD signal.  For our NPR talk and the classical music on the HD 2 channel, it sounds just great.

I’m also disappointed so far in the alternate choices available here on the HD 2 channels.  So far as I can tell, WJCT is the only station offering something really different on our second channel, and even at that, we duplicate classical music at night.  The country station is offering “Classic Country”, which is a very satellite radio kind of niche programming, and the alternative rock station is offering even more obscure alternative rock … again a very niche format.  We do need a lot more choices for HD to become really popular here in NE Florida, but I do think that will happen.  The FCC just recently lifted the prohibition on making money with the HD channels, and hopefully things will start to pick up in that arena.

Admittedly, too, the receiver manufacturers need to come to market with more and more portable products.  I did read on one blog that eventually, you won’t go to the store and ask for and HD radio, you’ll just ask for a radio, and it will be HD.  And all the devices and appliances that have radios in them will also be HD.  That, however, is going to take time.  I do look forward to the day when I can buy a walkman-style radio that’s HD, and if it plays MP3s so much the better.  I think that day will come, but it’s still 3-5 years down the road.

As to satellite, I’m personally against the merger.  I think the commission will cite the Echostar / Direct TV merger attempt as precedent.  When the licences were granted, they specified two companies.  If Sirius and XM were allowed to merge, another company could bid to claim one portion of the spectrum, and they’d be right to do so.

I’m also wondering how long people will pay to listen to the 4 or 5 channels they probably tune to on a regular basis.  Most people I know who have a satellite radio only listen to a very few of the 130 or so channels that are available.  And while the same is true of cable or satellite TV … I know we only use a handful of the 500 or so channels available, and pay a lot more per month than for satellite radio … it’s pretty much the only option we have.  If I could order them ala carte, I would.  My primary reason for not getting a satellite radio is that between my standard FM and HD radios and CD’s, I pretty much have all the choices I need.  I can listen to NPR, which is my default choice, or whatever niche music I happen to be interested in that day, and I choose the songs.  I honestly think NPR would be my default choice even if I DIDN’T run the radio station.  I know some NPR programs are available on satellite radio, but why pay for what I can get for free.  The fact that I DO donate back to my own radio station is immaterial.  I don’t HAVE to, and that’s the difference.

And oh, by the way, I have some Sirius channels available on my satellite TV.  I really like the blues channel, but the DJ’s are just awful.  At least the guy is on Sunday afternoon when I usually listen.  Not something I’d pay for.

But that’s the thing.  If I had satellite radio, I’d listen to the blues channel, or classic rock.  I’d get my NPR over-the-air from the station I work for, and it’s just not worth it.  Other people may think so, but I’m not there and don’t know that I’ll ever be.

Maybe this entire debate over HD vs satellite radio is indicative of the level of discourse in much of our country, particularly on the blogosphere.  Whether the topic is radio or politics or OJ or news coverage or whatever … it seems like people are having a very difficult time being civil to one another.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for honest and reasoned disagreement.  It’s just loud, strident, and sometimes downright mean and insulting.  I could go on for a lot of paragraphs about that, but I think I’ll save it for another day.



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