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Group Heads Line Up Behind Smulyan


Radio Ink spoke to several Radio Group Heads Monday to get their feedback on whether or not $15 million per year was too much to pay Sprint to have FM chips installed and turned on in 30 million smart phones that will include Smulyan's NextRadio app. Hubbard Radio Chair Ginny Morris said she supports their plan and the industry owe's Smulyan a great deal of thanks. "Jeff Smulyan has worked tirelessly and with little help on getting us to this juncture." Here's more on what Morris, Galaxy CEO Ed Levine and Cromwell President and CEO Bud Walters think of the Sprint/NextRadio plan.

Morris says Radio has to recognize that people no longer wake up to an alarm clock. "Having a 'stereo' in your room is no longer 'the it thing' for most high school students and my guess is that most dorm rooms have docking stations instead of stereos. Couple those changing behaviors with the new competition in the dashboard and you have among other things -- far less visibility to local radio than we used to have --  I see this as 30 million more radios in the marketplace--that's a terrific start."

"We have so much more to offer than our ability to assist in an emergency.  If we all do our jobs right on the local level people will appreciate the simple ability to access us over directly on their phones and not through a data plan. We are local, we are relevant in the lives of our listeners, we entertain and inform. Yes, we are also a lifeline to people who are dealing with the aftermath of a crisis but those are not the only times we matter in the lives of the American consumer."

"I have reached out to several people about giving a verbal commitment to participate in the program by dedicating inventory and without exception everyone has stepped up to do 'at least' what was asked of them.  Big companies, small companies, big markets and small markets--the response has been overwhelmingly positive."

Galaxy Communications CEO Ed Levine also likes this deal. "The revenue split is innovative and the access to the phones in the Sprint customer base is huge. I would gladly sign up for the same deal along the same terms with AT&T and Verizon. This is about portability and distribution of our content. It's 2013, time to stop debating these critical issues of long term survival and simply get it done!

Cromwell broadcasting President and CEO Bud Walters says, "Over the last several weeks I have been in contact with small market licensees of more than 450 radio stations. All except two have pledged $10,000 per year per station for three years for this project.  There has been general excitement about the idea and the need. There are  certainly a lot more licensees who will be supportive."

The app is being developed by Emmis and should be ready in April or May according to Smulyan. He says the response so far "has been spectacular." And, to allow radio stations to start competing on the dashboard immediately, all stations will get a few free features, including their logo and a liner.

Every radio station in the country will be available on the NextRadio app. Local listeners will have access to local stations through these Sprint phones with the NextRadio app. It will be the interactive upgrades stations decide to add to the app that determine just how competitive stations are with the cutting edge technology companies of today. Upgrades such as album art, graphics, selling targeted ads (watch out Pandora) and ways to purchase songs as they play.

Emmis is holding a free informational webinar on the app. February 27th