According to Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia the answer is yes, and it will be here sooner than you might think.
Digital Radio (DR) is due to roll out in all 5 metro markets in Jan/Feb 2009. Yesterday morning I was amongst 30 industry professionals who got to hear it first hand. In just over the course of an hour, we were taken through how it will work and what it means for both the consumer and the advertiser. As a consumer, I am very excited! No longer will I be subjected to the static interference that corrupts my ears every morning, as I try and listen to my favourite FM breakfast show while on the train into work. One of the main advantages to DR will be the strong interference-free signal, especially within built up areas. AM listeners in particular, will be jumping for joy with news of this. Not only will the sound quality surpass current standards, but it will open up more choices for listeners with extra channels and new digital features. New technology means we will have screens to display dynamic text, images, data & multimedia channels.
For Advertisers, radio will no longer be just an audio touch point. DR introduces a visual element to complement the offering. From product shots to animated logos, contact details and even down-loadable electronic coupons for redeemable promotions. Phones will have the fastest capability to embrace digital radio and for many features will be the most practical hardware (electronic coupons for example) Despite these features you will not be able to display moving pictures; don’t get digital radio confused with Mobile TV.
Although a free service to consumers, an initial investment in a digital receiver will be required. Despite the onslaught of negative press out there I believe that DR will win the consumer over in the end, even if it takes 10 years. Remember Digital TV didn’t happen over night.