Confronting Radio’s Digital Dilemma
Radio’s digital dilemma is quite real, and the circumstances that have engendered it are now clear. What remains to be seen is whether the trajectory of radio’s digital transition in the United States is amenable to proactive modifi cation, and whether broadcasters themselves have the wherewithal to adapt to a convergent media environment irrespective of the technologies they ultimately use to get there. Initial attempts via the HD Radio system have not been successful, thanks to the inherent defi ciencies of the technology itself and the lack of regulatory engagement with the real-world consequences of its design and implementation. Simply becoming “bit radiators” also does not address shifting expectations among the listening public about what “radio” in a digital environment actually is. In many respects, radio’s digital transition represents a critical juncture of sorts for the medium itself: so long as broadcasters and regulators continue to address the phenomenon of convergence in such a single-dimensional fashion, this dilemma will only become more complicated and challenging.