Chips Getting Air Play

More Than 50,000 Ads Have Run Since February Launch

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   Erik Estrada promotes NextRadio and a different form of chips

Erik Estrada hasn’t received this much mainstream airplay since the late 1970s.

The actor is part of an advocacy effort by the radio industry talking about chips!  Not the long-running TV show Estrada starred in, but the ones inside smartphones.  These chips are capable of tuning to free FM radio and providing accompanying imagery, text & interactivity – all without draining the phone’s battery or data plan!

NextRadio has been featured several times previously in this blog.  Now, it has partnered with the National Association of Broadcasters, American Public Media, National Public Radio and the Educational Media Foundation to create FreeRadioOnMyPhone.org.  The website & advocacy effort is designed to educate Americans that these highly capable chips are already pre-loaded on smartphones and turned on in other parts of the world, but not activated by domestic wireless carriers.

A series of radio ads, including the one voiced by Estrada, were produced by New York advertising agency DeVito/Verdi. Katz Media Group and other participating rep firms sent them to affiliated stations who have run them over 50,000 times since February 23, an on-air value of about $6,000,000.  Since the campaign launched, NextRadio downloads are up 400%.

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Jeff Smulyan raves about the possibilities the NextRadio app gives to users.

“The commercials we’ve been running have had a tremendous effect,” said EmmisCommunications CEO Smulyan said the results are particularly amazing given the limited availability due to the lack of activated phones.  Just 40 Android smartphones and three Android tablets, mostly via Sprint, are currently carrying the service.Jeff Smulyan.  There are now more than 2 million activated users, tuning into 4,384 stations per day with an average session of 17 minutes. Google Play ranks NextRadio as the #8 free app.

Beyond the increased downloads & usage, of equal or greater importance is increased awareness among carriers and regulators, most importantly those at the FCC, and members of Congress and other policy makers.  For example, last week in Indiana the State Senate adopted a resolution urging wireless carriers to activate the FM chip in every smartphone.

“The most critical step is now telling the American public that this is available to them,” said Smulyan.  If the stations keep running these educational ads, it could dramatically change the industry.