An Unwelcome Guest at the NAB Radio Show

This was the first year that I’ve actually attended the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual radio convention. Though I have been to two as a protester: the first in San Francisco in 2000 to let the industry know people were unhappy with their evisceration of LPFM, and again in Seattle in 2002 to culture-jam the airwaves and emphasize the continued vibrancy of electronic civil disobedience.

This time around, I figured things might be different, because I’ve grown a lot in the intervening years, left the radio industry for academia, and just wrote a book about one of the industry’s most pressing problems. Instead, I came away with the uncomfortable realization that the industry remains the purview of a bunch of old white guys wholly detached from reality and happy to keep things that way. Read More

The Polarization of NextRadio

As industry forces continue to grapple with radio’s digital transition, the medium’s push for renewed portability got a bit more complicated this summer. Not much of a surprise that the discourse surrounding the NextRadio app mimics similar forays into the new: lovers and haters lining up with little air to breathe between them.

The latest developments began with the launch last month of Free Radio On My Phone, a public-awareness campaign for enabling FM reception in smartphones. The campaign is a joint project of NextRadio, the National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio, American Public Radio, and the Educational Media Foundation—all heavy-hitters in commercial, public, and religious broadcasting. EMF has also agreed to sign its entire station-roster up for enhanced NextRadio services. Read More

NextRadio: On the Move?

Perhaps the most interesting news on the digital radio front to come out of the NAB’s annual convention this year was the progress report on NextRadio. The Emmis-developed app works as an analog FM radio tuner on selected Android smartphones and was initially rolled out on the Sprint network last year; radio stations can also subscribe to a companion service to push related content to mobile listeners.

As of this month, NextRadio reported that the app had been downloaded more than 400,000 times through Google Play and has a 32% retention rate (meaning one-third of those who downloaded NextRadio continued to use it after a month). Some T-Mobile users have also successfully reported installing the app, and its developers say more phones are forthcoming with NextRadio pre-installed. Read More