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Smulyan Says Phil Boyce is Wrong


On Thursday Radio Ink reported the former WABC/New York PD Phil Boyce said the industry didn't really need an FM chip in cell phones -- an app is enough. Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan (pictured) has about made it his mission in life to get chips into mobile phones and get them activated (some phones have chips installed but never activated), and he made it a point to call out Boyce during the Radio Show's leadership breakfast on Thursday. He wanted to make sure everyone understands the difference between an app and a chip.

The point Smulyan wanted everyone in the room to take home was that in order for an app to work, it needs to use the consumer's data plan. And at some point there will be a data glut, and consumers will be paying a lot more. An FM chip doesn't required a data plan; as long as the phone powers on, listeners are able to hear their local stations. Smulyan, and the NAB, believe that is vital during an emergency, when cell towers often fail.

Smulyan also threw a new number on the table: He said that in 2012, the American public will spend 3 billion hours listening to radio. All that time -- some of it now using up digital data -- could be transferred to mobile phones. As we pointed out, Smulyan has made it his mission to get the chip in all mobile phones. He said, "Every other issue the industry faces is 5 percent as important as this one.

(2/5/2013 8:47:33 PM)
I guess carrying extra batteries & a radio around is good for someone pushing a shopping cart. Frankly, my pockets will only carry so much. Any extra fm radio even in a cell, is a great idea.

(9/25/2012 11:03:44 PM)
That picture is Boyce.

- Ted
(9/24/2012 3:26:55 PM)
Many of the broadcasters calling for the federal government to mandate that cellphones have/activate FM chips are the same people who are airing non-stop talk shows that want the government to get out of our lives and for the free enterprise system to make decisions. Many of these same broadcasters also want more deregulation of radio. It seems a bit disingenuous to ask for both. Otherwise, they're no different than every other special interest group wanting help from the government.

- Skeptic
(9/21/2012 4:06:16 PM)
Pardon for the dual post (also posted in the original Boyce story) but I will add some things:

Understand that Phil is coming from a slightly different perspective: most if not all of his stations are AM and they are not invited to the chip party simply because it is impractical. He is right when he says that he doesn't need the chip, just an app. That's the only way an AM station is going to get on your phone. Your mileage may vary if you are an FM.

Next, what will happen in a dire emergency situation or widespread disaster? You will still need a radio to pick up the AM stations that will manage to get back on the air and have actual programming you will need. Granted the phone can serve as an FM radio with the chip and that certainly doesn't hurt where those stations will serve your needs. But since the phone might be otherwise useless the device of choice might well be a radio - which will have the choice of both FM and AM where the phone will not.

I think the chip argument has creedence only because phones are being made with the FM capability and not being enabled. Cause it to make economic sense for the carriers to enable it and it will happen.

Something else to consider: Disaster happens, cell service and power service is down. You can get radio on your phone; you can radio on a battery-powered radio. The battery in your phone runs down. Do you have a spare charged-up battery? Probably not and there's a limit to how much time that'll work. Do you have spare batteries for your battery-operated radio? Probably. And likely enough to get you through the disaster if you planned ahead. You're not going to do that with cell phone batteries (too expensive for one thing).

- radiomike
(9/21/2012 10:18:05 AM)
Alright then - for those who cling to the "safety" or public service angle: How 'bout just those stations that can demonstrate they already have a staff that can be instantaneously on the job and on the air in the event of some disaster are the ones who get a chip-enabled cell-phone frequency....? Or, would that favor the congloms just a tad too much?

- Ronald T. Robinson

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