Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan and some other radio industry leaders have been pushing the idea of having a radio receiver included as standard equipment in every cellular telephone. The wireless companies wouldn’t be doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. It would save them a lot of money, not to mention providing a benefit to their customers.
The wireless phone providers have to come up with a way to meet a Capitol Hill mandate to have an emergency alerting system. Radio receivers would be one way to do that – and for billions of dollars less than if the cell companies built their own texting-based EAS. Radio already has an EAS system in place – not to mention that radio provides constantly updated information in an emergency, rather than just a short text message.
“We’ve had good discussions with several of the major cellular companies,” Smulyan told RBR/TVBR of the effort to include radio receivers in cell phones. “Everybody who’s heard about it – whether they’re in government or the private sector – is intrigued. The wheels move fairly slowly, but we’re starting to get some pretty significant impetus from some people in government who love it as the perfect solution for emergency notification. And from an industry standpoint, it really allows us to do music tagging.”
How long will it take to implement once everyone agrees to do it? “You turn over phones in this country every 19 months. So it really would be faster than you might imagine,” Smulyan said.