Sprint’s Radio Deal: Some Context

More details have emerged about Sprint’s deal with broadcasters to include FM receiver functionality in some of its mobile devices. In simple terms, broadcasters have cobbled together a package of subsidies to the nation’s #3 wireless carrier in order to buy access to that market.

Sprint will enable FM radio reception capability in at least 30 million phones over the next three years, using Emmis Communication’s NextRadio app as the interface.

In exchange, broadcasters will pay Sprint 30% of any "interactive" advertising revenue generated via the app on those phones. Emmis sweetened the deal by pledging Sprint $45 million in advertising inventory over three years ($15 million per year, allocated quarterly). Read More

Beware Broadcasters’ Post-Sandy Opportunism

One month ago today, those of us in NYC and the surrounding area were hunkering down and riding out a storm named Sandy. As conditions worsened and disruptions in communications technologies multiplied, people did something they don’t often do en masse anymore: they turned to radio to find out what was going on.

A few radio stations did provide an informational and emotional lifeline, demonstrating that the medium still has an important role to play in our modern media environment. The ubiquity of broadcasting, coupled with the ease of access to it (no device necessary save for a cheap receiver, no contracts, no terms of service) made radio the go-to medium after almost everything else stopped working. Read More

Future of AM: Decided in Secret?

There’ve been more developments regarding the radio industry’s potential plans for “modernizing” the AM band. Radio World reported last month that the NAB’s Radio Technology Committee and CBS have selected an unnamed AM station “in an area that could be characterized as a medium-sized market” to be a guinea pig for all-digital AM-HD Radio test broadcasts.

This is the first of “three or four” AM stations that may be tapped to test the all-digital protocol. The experiments are likely to be done by an “outside engineering contractor” and primarily financed by HD’s developer, iBiquity Digital Corporation. They could begin before the end of the year. Read More

Diverging Perspectives on the Future of AM

Nobody really quite knows what the National Association of Broadcasters’ AM Task Force is up to, but speculation surrounding their work has sparked some interesting discussion about the state and future of the oldest of the broadcast radio bands.

The Task Force seems to be considering two primary ideas for “revitalizing” AM broadcasting. One is to phase it out completely and migrate all AM stations to new spots on the FM dial. The other involves a wholesale conversion of AM broadcasting from analog to digital, using AM-HD as the mechanism. Read More