Text has been updated with the current number of organizations and stations participating.
Emmis has been trying to build the NextRadio ecosystem; now Christian broadcaster EMF is ramping up its involvement.
The Educational Media Foundation, parent of Christian radio networks K-Love and Air1, has signed up to use TagStation data services to deliver interactive and enhanced visual content to NextRadio-enabled FM smartphones that tune to its 390 main FM signals.
TagStation is part of Emmis Communications; it developed the smartphone app with NAB Labs. The app’s advocates have big hopes for NextRadio, which is intended to combine local FM tuning on smartphones with online interactivity, album art, program information and user feedback. The company also sells a cloud-based data service that supports these enhancements, a service that was developed also with HD Radio and future “connected car” dashboards in mind.
In the announcement, Mike Novak, president and CEO of the K-Love and Air 1 Radio Networks, was quoted saying this deal will let consumers listen to K-Love’s content using far less of their phone data and with better phone battery life, both of which have been arguments used by Emmis in soliciting broadcaster support. Paul Brenner of TagStation/Emmis said consumers also will listen longer to FM radio when they see engaging images and can interact with stations.
Emmis has been pitching various broadcast companies to participate. It thinks the industry needs to provide consistent presentation of broadcast radio on smartphones with visual displays and interactivity. Emmis says some 31 broadcast organizations are now licensed for full TagStation content on at least some of their stations. The EMF commitment of 390 stations more than doubles NextRadio’s number of fully participating stations; an Emmis spokeswoman told Radio World 760 FM stations are now covered by such agreements, while 2,880 more are using its free logo service.
The app so far is available for use with 17 smartphone models on the Sprint Network. Novak saluted Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and HTC for their support.