An incredible thing is happening for radio. In July, AT&T agreed to allow FM chips to be activated in U.S. customers’ smartphones. Then, earlier this month, Paul Brenner of NextRadio created a video outside a T-Mobile store featuring a consumer telling T-Mobile CEO John Legere that she wants radio on her smartphone — something the mobile carrier was not offering. Brenner had the woman ask Legere to enable the FM chips so she could listen to radio on her phone, for all the reasons NextRadio is promoting: low battery consumption during continuous listening, no data charges for audio, and FM radio when cell networks are down.
The pressure worked. Legere, to his credit, saw the message and stepped up, saying on Twitter last week that he will have chips enabled on T-Mobile phones. (Most phones already have the chip in place and only need to have it activated by the carrier.)
In spite of all the arguments condemning radio as “old technology” and the belief among some that everyone is migrating to online, self-programmed stations, Nielsen data shows that radio continues its domination. Radio should do everything in its power to pressure wireless carriers to enable the chips.
Interestingly enough, tens of thousands of radio spots encouraging listeners to go to their carriers to demand FM didn’t create enough pressure to persuade T-Mobile. Yet one video outside of a store that spread on social media apparently did the trick.
What matters is that T-Mobile said yes. Now NextRadio needs Verizon.
If radio stations in every city in the United States started having their morning teams create videos outside Verizon stores, would Verizon be persuaded?
What if stations staged promotions on the streets asking listeners to carry signs asking for FM on their phones, getting that on video — along with the station logos — and getting local media coverage?
Radio is the best at on-the-street promotions, and if we can get all the phone carriers to enable FM chips, it will be a major step toward getting radio on every device.
The smartphone is like a Swiss army knife: It has just about every device you might need. But it could have a working FM radio, and it doesn’t. Why not tout this to your listeners?
Let’s start with Verizon: Remember, most phones already have FM chips. They simply need to be activated.
We want to see your promotions and videos. Post them online, and be sure to mention the CEO of Verizon, Lowell McAdam, and use the #Verizon and #LowellMcAdam hashtags.
Your campaign: “(CITY) wants radio on all smartphones.”
We’ll highlight your videos, your promotions, and your efforts to talk this up on the air and get your town asking for Verizon to let FM live on its phones. Talk about how T-Mobile is doing this, and be sure to mention Sprint, which got on board with the FM chip a couple of years ago, and how grateful its customers are.
If radio makes a collective effort to make this issue known through promotions that are then shared on social media, we can knock down the mobile providers one at a time through consumer pressure. But keep it fun, appropriate, and respectful (we don’t want to see anything backfire).
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