In April Clear Channel announced that all of its HD Radio stations were transmitting Itunes tags on the primary channel. In June, the same capability was added to the HD2 signals at those stations. Itunes tagging is yet another feature in the list of enhancements HD Radio offers consumers. While there are only two manufacturers (Polk and Alpine) of tagging-capable receivers, Clear Channel expects the feature will be embraced by consumers. Radio magazine talked to Jeff Littlejohn, executive vice president of distribution development for Clear Channel Radio, about the Clear Channel announcement.
Radio: What did Clear Channel have to do implement Itunes tagging across all the HD1 and HD2 signals?
JL: The UFID of the ID3 tag of each song is updated to include the Itunes Store ID. This is the biggest amount of work in the process.
How did Clear Channel do this for all its HD Radio stations?
JL: There are services, such as Jump2Go that can do this, but we at Clear Channel did it ourselves. Because we have common systems across our stations, it was relatively simple for us to do it across the board. We built a software system to map every song with its Itunes Store ID. Going forward, we update each song before it's added to a station's playlist.
We have the same automation system and the same Importer in all our stations. All the stations are connected via a WAN. We have a centralized platform to enter title and artist information. So for us, adding the tags was very simple for us. We also want to encourage and help other broadcasters in launching this technology.
Do you think tagging is a significant feature for listeners to embrace HD Radio?
JL: I do. 65 percent of new music is discovered because of terrestrial radio. Peer-to-peer is number two, and other forms of media are a distant third. In addition, more and more people are buying music through electronic downloads. Tagging allows listeners to use these two methods together.
Radio: Right now, tagging is limited to Ipods and Itunes. Do you see other media players and other music file distributors becoming involved in tagging?
JL: This has to be much broader and include many broadcasters and distributors. This needs to be available in whatever way consumers want to get their music. If they want to go through Apple, great. If they want to go through other systems, we need to offer that. We should not try to force consumer habits, and we need to make sure this is broadly accessible to consumers. That's the only way the ecosystem really develops and becomes the killer application.