Industry-backed HD Radio Alliance and become its strategic advisor. On Jan. 1, he’ll turn the reins over to Diane Warren, who will become president of the Alliance, from executive vp.
Ferrara made the announcement Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 3) during a news conference to update reporters on the progress the 33-month-old group has made since the December 2005 launch to promote HD Radio nationally.
“The Alliance is becoming more of a marketing operation,” Ferrara noted, adding that marketing is less a part of his skill set than it is Warren’s. “I think it is time for a change and time for Diane to take over.”
Ferrara told reporters that he will remain onboard to advise broadcasters and manufacturers but that he has several offers in the financial and investment world that he is considering.
Along with the changing of the guard, effective immediately, the restrictions on broadcasters that limited advertising on HD2 side channels to four 10-second mentions per hour, a practice initiated at the beginning of this year, were lifted. Ferrara said broadcasters will approach advertising on HD2 channels in a consumer-sensitive way, similar to the model that has been so successful for National Public Radio in the form of programming sponsorships. He said the radio industry will also construct a platform for advertisers that will offer a broader spectrum, a web of standard radio, HD2, Internet radio and mobile-messaging sites.
The Alliance reported that broadcasters have agreed to voluntary guidelines, aimed at preserving the diversity and clutter-free nature of today’s HD2 channels.
“When we began putting the pieces in place for the Alliance in the fall of 2005, there was little attention being paid to HD Radio and the industry lacked a plan to make it a reality,” Ferrara said. “There were only a few HD stations on the air, no automakers offered an HD Radio and no national retailers carried receivers.”
Today there are more than 1,750 HD Radio stations on the air, with more than 800 stations offering HD2 and/or HD3 side channels, the Alliance reported. There are more than 60 HD Radio receivers available at more than 12,000 retail outlets. National retailers carrying HD Radio receivers include Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Apple Stores. Automakers offering HD Radio features as factory or dealer options span 14 brands across 82 models, including Ford/Lincoln/Mercury, Volvo, BMW, Mini USA, Mercedes, Toyota Scion, Hyundai Genesis and Jaguar.
Declaring success for the on-air radio campaign, “It’s Time To Upgrade!” the HD Alliance expects the one millionth receiver will be sold this year.
“The response to our consumer marketing has significantly exceeded our expectations,” said Warren, who is the leader of the advertising campaign. “As we look forward, we’ll remember 2008 as a breakout year for HD Radio,” predicted Warren. “In the meantime, there remains much to do and the Alliance looks forward to working closely with industry organizations, iBiquity Digital Corp., radio broadcasters, automakers, dealers and retailers to bring this important new technology fully to market.”
–with additional reporting by Katy Bachman