Clear Channel Radio Thursday (Jan. 19) revealed its 15-months-in-the-making HD2 digital radio multicast programming strategy. The aggressive rollout calls for 25 of the company’s stations in five markets to launch new sidechannels over the next five days. Within two weeks, another 82 stations in 20 more markets will join them.
To whet consumer appetites, the company will stream the new channels online and conduct on-air giveaways of HD radios.
While most of the 107 new HD2 channels complement existing on-air programming, many introduce entirely new music or spoken-word genres. The list is heavy on Hispanic and rock offerings.
Among the new channels are Xtreme Hip-Hop, Wild Espnaol, Kisspanic, Americana, Disco, Triple A, 50’s & ‘60s Oldies, Live Rock, Gospel, La Preciosa, Hispanic AC, Indie Rock, Traditional Jazz, Gay Radio, All New Alternative, Classic Country and Active Rock. Modern rock WWDC (DC101) Washington will offer an Elliot on Demand channel for morning man Elliot Segal, while top 40 WDKF Dayton is launching an Artist Channel.
”This cements our role as a leading provider of content” across multiple platforms, CCR president and CEO John Hogan said Thursday morning in a press teleconference. “This is only the beginning,” Hogan said, adding that the company intends to announce additional alternative delivery vehicles for its content.
“HD is perhaps the most significant positive technical development for radio since FM,” CC executive VP of content Tom Owens said. Owens said local CC programmers, aided by club DJs, cable TV programmers and Internet personnel, accomplished the “massive programming initiative.”
Some sidechannels will be music-intensive, while others, such as the one for top 40 WHTZ (Z100) New York will be more produced and involve more air talent.
“While music has been at the center so far, we are working on many spoken word formats, and look at applying those as the capability for HD3 emerges.” Owens added.
The rollout began Thursday with sidechannels for CC’s five New York and five San Francisco FMs. The company will turn on five sidechannels in Dallas on Friday. Chicago and Los Angeles launch on Monday, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Detroit on Wednesday, Houston next Thursday, and Boston next Friday.
Deep Classics, the sidechannel for classic rock WAXQ (Q104.3) New York plays “classic rock from the back wall,” while Z100’s multicast is positioned as “Z100 new music HD2, the new music source.” Z100 HD2 programs 20-minute behind-the-music-type features on new artists, such as My Chemical Romance, the Veronicas and O.A.R.
Since four of CC’s five New York sidechannels are brand extensions, on-air promotion comes courtesy of their mothership stations. However the sidechannel for rhythmic top 40 WKTU is Country, which posed a marketing challenge. The solution, according to CC-N.Y. senior VP of programming Tom Poleman, involves WAXQ morning man Jim Kerr — who has country radio roots in the market — voicing promos for the sidechannel on all five CC-New York FMs.
“You will hear a significant amount of promotion, geared toward educating consumers about the incredible amount of new choices that they have,” Hogan said. “As that demand turns into purchases and there are more radios available, we will then turn our attention to the more commercial aspect of this.”