EmmisBeat: Pushing To Secure Radio’s Place on the Smartphone

CEO On A Mission To Get Apple To Join NextRadio

FM chip technology in smartphones is an increasingly vital technology, as proved by the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Getting vital information to an area’s residents – in English and Spanish – will prove critical in future natural disasters. As an industry leader in smartphone FM chip technology, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan gave the keynote speech at the March 2018 Hispanic Radio Conference in Miami.

“We are especially excited to have Jeff Smulyan join us at the Hispanic Radio Conference for this very special interview,” Deborah Parenti, Streamline Radio Division Publisher, said. “As 2017 proved, radio is truly a lifeline during times of crisis. Cell phones without FM chips can leave people without the means to communicate and share vital information. Having Jeff at the conference to share his thoughts and answer questions will be a terrific addition to the bank of knowledge that always comes out of this conference.”

Despite pushes from the broadcast community, Apple, maker of the iPhone, remains a holdout. “NextRadio is on just about every Android phone. We don’t have Apple and that’s our last mission.” It’s possible Apple sees FM radio as a competitor to its Beats Music service. “They are going to stonewall us as long as they can. That’s why we have to get our listeners to push it,” Smulyan said.


In future car entertainment systems, Smulyan expects a touchscreen of apps, much like Apple’s CarPlay functionality. Whether radio is on that screen is up to broadcasters and listeners to push the industry in that direction. “We have to be on that first page, and NextRadio is the driver to get us there.”

Smulyan concluded with a push for corporate executives to take the reins and move the industry forward. Providing visual information, in a similar fashion as Pandora and Spotify, will be vital to radio competing and profiting in the smartphone age. TagStation, an Emmis technology that syncs with NextRadio to provide these visuals, needs more support from industry executives, according to Smulyan, who offered six months of the service free to station executives ready to speak about the technology.

Smulyan noted that NextRadio saves battery life and data, so the argument against turning on the FM chip is flimsy. “It boils down to money. When enough people say enough is enough, things will change.”


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