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FEMA Leader Supports FM Chips in Smartphones

NAB’s Gordon Smith says Fugate’s comments “send strong message to wireless providers”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says the organization recommends people have a radio as a source of information during an emergency.

That can include FM reception capability in their cellphone, he says on a video from

The feds learned during the earthquake that hit the Washington area in 2011 that though “there was no real damage” during the quake, there was so much traffic the cell networks became overwhelmed. “We tend to think devices will work the same in a disaster” as they do normally, he said. In the case of the quake, that wasn’t true, saying “all of a sudden your smartphone becomes a brick.”

FEMA recommends every kid has a portable radio, said Fugate.

“All disasters are local,” said Fugate. In order to be plugged in to what’s happening, “A lot of times that’s going to be on radio and may be only way to get it.”

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith says Fugate’s comments “send a strong message to wireless providers regarding the indispensable value of radio as a lifeline when disaster strikes.”

Noting radio’s deal with Sprint to include FM chips in smartphones via the NextRadio app, Smith says: “We strongly urge all wireless carriers to voluntarily activate their customers’ FM chips that are already installed in mobile devices to provide Americans with access to a lifesaving service.”