HD Radio Enhances AM/FM Signal

HD RadioYou might say that HD Radio has become AM and FM radio’s proverbial wingman. With the emergence of Pandora and other streaming services, one might think that AM and FM radio could begin to slowly go the way of the dinosaur. But not so fast; a recent Nielsen study has shown that radio is very much alive and well – due at least in part to the emergence of HD Radio.

Today’s blog takes us through the beginnings of HD Radio, explains how it works, and gives pertinent stats about the exciting feature.

In 2002, a company called iBiquity Digital Corp. developed HD Radio, the necessary catapult that began the switch from analog to digital broadcasting. They license their HD Radio software to receiver suppliers like Clarion and Harmon, just to name a couple. As time has gone by, HD Radio has gained momentum, to the point where HD Radio is now available in about 22.5 million cars on the road today.

How HD Radio Works

How does HD Radio work? It is important to first understand  that it is not a subscription service and doesn’t work the same as satellite radio. It transmits a better quality of radio digitally, giving the listener less noise and a better overall sound. HD Radio on the AM dial actually sounds as good as traditional FM radio; while HD FM radio quality is very similar to that of listening to a CD. In addition, it also supports a service called Artist Experience, which displays information on the HD Radio pertaining to what’s playing at any particular time.

This year, approximately 50% of all new cars sold will be equipped with an HD Radio receiver; and there are about 2,200 stations broadcasting in HD in the United States (along with another 1,500 digital-only stations).

While Pandora and similar companies certainly have their share of customers (and rightfully so, as we are big Pandora fans here at JKR), there seems to be more of an overall radio audience than ever before, as more people are listening to more content on the radio. This has helped AM and FM radio recoup a good portion of the audience they have lost to streaming services.

HD radio has become standard equipment on Mercedes-Benz, Scion, Mini, Volvo, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Tesla vehicles. Robert Struble, the CEO of iBiquity, believes that by the turn of the next decade, all US-made cars will be equipped with his company’s software.

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