Hi Dave, welcome to Potpourri. Yes, HD-radio was designed by politicians- not engineers. Mixing analog and digital is like mixing oil and water- it just doesn't work. What they should have done was use a entirely new band for a all-digital system like they did in Europe. They could have easily converted one or two of the old analog TV channels for this during the transition to digital TV but they didn't. It's just one of countless mistakes the FCC has made in recent years. The place is run by idiots these days.
I think the real future of radio will be WiFi or WiMax based- where listeners can listen to any audio source from anywhere in the world via the internet.