Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Communication Studies (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Paul D. Driscoll

Second Committee Member

Michel Dupagne

Third Committee Member

Walter McDowell

Fourth Committee Member

Don W. Stacks

Fifth Committee Member

Samuel A. Terilli


Despite industry and government endorsements of its many advantages over conventional analog radio and significant consumer marketing efforts, digital radio broadcasting (DAB) continues to languish, unable to attract a critical mass of users either from the broadcasting industry or consumers. The purpose of this dissertation is to discover why America has not embraced this once-promising digital medium. Approaching the issue from the interrelated perspectives of technology, economics, and regulation, and synthesizing this information using diffusion of innovations theory, the study identifies five major factors inhibiting the growth of HD Radio in the United States. These factors include: (a) the emergence of other audio digital technologies, (b) a poorly-planned rollout and marketing of the product (c) little return on investment for broadcasters, (d) lackluster programming and other associated content, and (e) the overall economic slowdown in the radio industry. The study also identifies the levels of diffusion through the social systems present in the radio industry and finds that while diffusion has occurred fully through the regulatory system, diffusion has been significantly hampered through the radio industry and listeners. Radio stations converting to HD Radio broadcasting are at a standstill as the return on investment for HD broadcasting in ratings and revenue is not at a substantial level to spur more conversions. Consumers show lackluster interest in the technology in terms of purchasing sets for themselves; consumers lack awareness of the technology and struggle to differentiate HD Radio from satellite radio competition. In the tech sector, HD Radio has found some success in placing compatible receivers in automobiles, but diffusion through this system is limited at best with few manufacturers lining up to produce more and different sets. The study concludes with recommendations that might reverse the tide of public indifference towards this innovation.


HD Radio; diffusion; digital radio; technology; IBOC; in band on channel