Digital Ads Killed the Radio Star

It seems like more and more things have gone high-def or digital in the last few years.  One of my favorites has been digital radios in cars.  If you are listening to a digital radio station with a digital radio, you get some bonus information sent to you.  Most of the time it’s the name of the song, the artist/band, and possibly the name of the radio station.  I don’t listen to the radio too often, so I find this feature especially nice.  When something comes on that I have never heard before, the radio can tell me exactly what I’m listening to right away.  I’m not dependent on the DJ feeding that information to me.

Both of my cars have digital radios that offer this feature.  On my Prius, I have to push a few buttons to find out what song is currently being played.  On the other hand, my Torrent constantly displays the information sent down with the digital signal, so I only have to glance in the direction of the radio to learn the name of my new favorite song (well, it will be my favorite for at least the next 5 minutes).  It is really quite convenient.

As great as this technology is, someone has found a way to abuse it (in my opinion) and make money off of it.  There is a digital radio station in my hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, that does not send the name of the song and artist to digital radios.  It doesn’t even send the call letters of the radio station.  The only information they send is advertisements for local businesses.  This is particularly bad in the Torrent, as it turns the radio into a mini-billboard in the center of my dashboard.  I look over to learn the name of a song or adjust the volume for a Lady GaGa single, and instead I learn about a deal on fried chicken at Ma & Pa’s Grocery.

I don’t have a problem with radio stations showing advertisements on digital radio screens when they are on a commercial break and advertisements are playing, anyway.  However, I’m not a fan of them hijacking my dashboard and sending nothing but advertisements to it all the time.  That behavior crosses a line for me.  At least I can always get away from the ads by choosing another station or even turning off my radio entirely.  Their plan has now backfired.  Instead of having another listener who gets some extra advertising, they have a former listener who will not receive any of their ads while paying too much for fried chicken.

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