The Antenna for the NextRadio App

Here’s a question of interest to those watching to see if the NextRadio app will be a success. Reader Mike Worrall wrote in from Los Angeles:

“With regard to the RW Sept. 25 article ‘NextRadio Amps Up Its Push’: The article states that ‘The NextRadio app does not use a streaming signal to deliver station audio. Instead it provides local over-the-air reception in phones with enabled FM chips …’

“I’m wondering: Given that a phone with an ‘enabled FM chip’ simply becomes an ‘FM radio,’ and given that FM radios require some form of external antenna, how well can/does an ‘enabled’ phone receive FM stereo broadcasts? May I assume that the ‘ear-bud’ cord doubles as the FM antenna? Has an assumption been made that all users of ‘NextRadio app audio’ do so with ‘ear-buds’ attached? What happens if I prefer to listen to the NextRadio app via the phone’s internal speakers? Has an assumption been made that all users of ‘NextRadio app audio’ will do so outdoors (with the attendant higher received signal levels)?”

He concludes: “Perhaps Radio World can get its hands on a Sprint phone with the NextRadio app and perform some ‘real-world’ testing?”

Thanks Mike. I like your suggestion. Meantime I shared your questions with Paul Brenner, Emmis senior vice president/chief technology officer, who is helping to lead the NextRadio initiative. He replies:

“Yes, the earbud connector does act as an antenna. The antenna can be an earbud or an external wire that goes to an external speaker. On many of the phones, so long as the earbud stereo jack has a connection, acting as the antenna, the audio from FM can actually be routed out the phone speakers.

“As an example the HTC One with dual front-facing stereo speakers has an output button in the app that lets the earbud be the antenna but the audio comes out the speakers,” Brenner continued.

“FM analog reception varies by handset maker, on the basis that there are varying FM chip designs and hardware integrations that effect sensitivity, loss/gain, interference, etc. We have found that the FM-enabled smartphone works well both indoors and outdoors. Indoor reception varies, obviously, by type of structure. For instance I get good reception in my house but not in the basement of my office building.”

I invite any readers who have experience with the NextRadio app to write to me about it at


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