HD radio - free over-the-air digital broadcasting - has been around for a decade, but still has an identity crisis.
Known to techies and engineers as IBOC ("in band on channel"), HD radio inserts a digital stream into conventional AM and FM broadcasts, with the intent of creating superior audio quality and the flexibility to add text information.
The results can be astonishing, particularly on AM, where HD broadcasts sound crystal clear and static-free.
FM stations can also carry several digital streams at once; HD-1 which carries the main format, and HD-2 and sometimes HD-3, offering specialized and niche formats.
Why hasn't HD radio taken off in popularity?
On the technical side, HD doesn't play well with others on the AM band. This is disappointing, since HD was touted as a solution to static-ridden and narrow-banded AM radio.
The digital stream on the AM band can interfere with stations on nearby frequencies, especially at night. As a result, most AM stations don't bother with an HD upgrade, or turn HD off at sunset.
Exceptions are major AM stations owned by one of the radio mega-corporations, like CBS and Clear Channel Communications.
For the FM band, the digital audio quality can compromised when more HD streams, HD-2 and HD-3, are added on.
Even so, Hartford FM stations include lots of secondary HD programming not found anywhere else, like raggae, smooth jazz and classic country.
Upgrading to HD is no small investment for broadcasters, either.
Here is a link to pricing information from iBiquity, the sole developer and promoter of HD radio in the United States.
Studies show that consumers are aware of HD radio, but aren't impressed enough to purchase HD receivers, which are most often found in luxury car sound systems.
One such preference study was published on the website Current.org.
No major surprise here, considering today's variety of music options - satellite radio, MP3, and Internet streaming services like Pandora and iHeart Radio - competing for listeners.
Product availability is scarce, too. There are few home sound systems and table radios with HD, and almost no portable devices, since the Microsoft Zune went out of production last year.
A list of available receivers can be found here, but most of these products aren't on the shelves of your favorite electronics retail store.
Still in all, many broadcast insiders and have faith in HD's long term success.
"HD radio isn't something we believe will fade away. It provides a great platform for us to create new programming, specialty formats, and AM station distribution," says Steve Salhany, operations manager of CBS Radio/Hartford.
"The technology provides better sound quality and enhanced data capability," he said.
All of the CBS Hartford stations have HD streams, including flagship WTIC-AM NewsTalk 1080, which is also the HD-2 offering of sister station WTIC-FM.
Rich Hanley, a professor who teaches journalism and communications at Quinnipiac University, also feels HD is not going away.
"It has more uses beyond the traditional transmission of sound with a kicker: it's free. I expect to see more sophisticated uses for HD radio in a mobile, digitally connected society as automobiles become more than just transportation machines," he said.