Smulyan: Weather Crisis Mandates FM In Cell Phones
January 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM (PT)
In an open letter to the radio community, EMMIS CEO JEFF SMULYAN cited the current weather predicament in KENTUCKY as an essential reason to install FM receivers in cell phones. The letter went as follows:
As many of you know, a snow and ice storm hit parts of the Midwest this week, virtually paralyzing our area. Here in INDIANAPOLIS, we got 10 inches of snow -- lovely to look at, but not at all helpful if you’re trying to get around.
Today I received a note from my friend and colleague BUD WALTERS, President of the CROMWELL GROUP, which operates 22 radio stations in four states -- DECATUR, IL; EFFINGHAM, IL; MATTOON, IL; VANDALIA, IL; OWENSBORO, KY/TELL CITY, IN; and NASHVILLE, TN.
I thought you might be interested in his note on the situation in OWENSBORO:
OWENSBORO, KENTUCKY is now a federal disaster area. There is no local communication except for our radio stations that are on the air...thanks to a very dedicated staff.
No cell, no telephone, no long distance, no cable, 80% no electric, no communication except local radio and EVANSVILLE radio/TV from 30 miles away.
IF THERE EVER WAS A CASE FOR FM RECEIVERS IN CELL PHONES, THIS IS IT. Would you please pass this memo to the FCC Commissioners and staff concerned about AS/Emergencies.
This is a widespread disaster where all communications has been disrupted, except for "over the air" radio. Everyone has a cell phone (now useless). The cell phone would not be useless if it had an FM radio in it.
As we look for ways to revitalize our industry, we note once again how important our medium is in times of crisis. Radio is where people turn to when they need information. If cell phones had FM receivers, as BUD notes, we could have served an even wider audience suffering through this storm, looking for updates on the weather, roads and schools.
We’ll be sharing this story with our elected officials and with the FCC Commissioners. The conversations we’ve had to date with WASHINGTON, DC and with cell phone providers have been promising.
Just another reason the time is right to make this happen. Let’s not wait until the next emergency.