Our first ListenerThink survey focuses on HD Radio. Have listeners heard of it? And what do they know about it? Based on 670 telephone interviews with U.S.18-64’s conducted January 4-8, here’s what we learned…

A majority (54%) have heard of HD radio. And some of them totally “get” it:

It delivers CD-quality sound for FM stations and FM-quality sound for AM stations.

It’s high definition radio with better quality and more stations are available.

Unfortunately, “right on” comments like these are truly the exception. For one thing, 16% have only heard of HD Radio and don’t know anything about it:

I’ve heard of it, but don’t know what it is and don’t have one.

For those who have a clue, the #1 image of HD Radio is that it delivers better audio quality…20% of 18-64’s express that:

It has a richer fuller sound…feels more like you’re listening to a CD.

But for many, better quality sound is not something they actually know about HD Radio…it’s something they infer based on their knowledge of HD TV:

It’s, uh, I haven’t heard much about it. It’s high definition. So it’s probably clearer like the high definition TV’s.

I have an HD TV that has a clearer picture. Maybe that is what HD radio is, clearer.

I am assuming it is just like HD TV and comes in a little clearer.

Only 8% understand that it delivers more channels and choices, and that’s its #2 image:

You get more channels than regular radio.

Different channels on same frequency.

Wide variety of specialty stations.

Some of this image might be coming from confusion between HD and satellite radio….6% of those who’ve heard of HD Radio think it is satellite radio…its #4 image. Still, the choices/satellite connection isn’t overt like the HD Radio/TV conflation.

Here’s the complete breakdown of the top responses to the question: What is HD Radio? How is it different from regular radio? (Note that percentages add up to more than 100% because multiple responses were permitted.)

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The “Bottom Line”: The industry still faces a big challenge marketing HD Radio. Its best decision was to call it “HD Radio,” because that enables consumers to at least infer that it delivers better quality. The industry needs to continue to focus on sound quality, plus MORE CHOICES and (to separate HD from satellite radio) FREE. ¬† Period.

Check out hdradio.com and you’ll see it’s saying way more than that — more music, tagging, bookmarking, traffic, how it all works, etc. etc. No wonder so many listeners don’t get it!