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Sprint Says Yes to FM Chip in Smartphones

Smulyan: 'A remarkable day for our industry'

Radio’s efforts to get FM into smartphones just took a big step forward.

Sprint announced a preliminary arrangement with radio broadcasters — negotiated principally on the radio side by Jeff Smulyan — that it says marks the first time a U.S. wireless carrier will offer the ability to access local FM radio on a broad array of devices.

The agreement will let its customers listen to local FM stations and aggregators on certain Android and Windows smartphones over the next three years. FM could be delivered through the NextRadio tuner application or other radio apps or services.

“Consumers today can listen to radio on smartphones by streaming over the Internet,” the company noted. “As part of this plan, Sprint customers could use their smartphones and the NextRadio tuner to listen to local FM radio stations.”

That NextRadio tuner is being demo’d this week at International CES show and will be available later this year. It promises users interactive features plus availability of local FM radio.

The announcement from Sprint includes citations of delight from several radio industry leaders including NAB’s Gordon Smith, Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman and Emmis’ Jeff Smulyan, who has been vocal on the importance of developing relationships between radio and wireless companies.

In the announcement he called it a “remarkable day for our industry.”