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Sandy Will Help FM Chip Campaign


Hurricane Sandy may prove to be another national episode that states the case that radio should be a permanent icon on every cell phone sold in America. When the director of FEMA admits cell phones and the Internet are not 100 percent reliable when a natural disaster strikes, and advises citizens to listen to radio, even the staunchest critic of the chip has to take note. Several factors could make this moment in time perfect for local radio to own a permanent position on the one item the American public just can't leave home without.

Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan has been working tirelessly on getting FM chips into all cell phones and he says his efforts are gaining momentum. In this  election year, Washington appears very willing to listen to broadcasters as they push the safety issue on Capital Hill to try to secure chips in all phones. The fact that consumers spend three billion hours a year listening to local radio through the data networks is also a factor. A lot of that would be eliminated if the chips were more common. Smulyans says, "The wireless networks understand thats not the wisest allocation of their resources."

It's inevitable that once Sandy is a memory, reports will follow that power was out and some residents were unable to receive information about shelters, where to get water and gas, and when the lights would come back on. It's like living in a Third World country when modern technology is available. There's no debating that radio provides listeners with all of that vital information. There's also no debating that every year some natural disaster will occur, maybe several, somewhere in the United States. The debate is whether the wireless providers want to give up, or sell, some of that valuable cell phone real estate. Smulyan says, "Its too important. It makes too much sense. Were now starting to see this move very dramatically."