Tag Archives: FM Radio

FCC asks Apple to activate iPhone FM receivers

My Android FM receiver app.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who forwards the following story from The Verge:

FCC chairman Ajit Pai wants Apple to turn on the FM radio that’s hidden inside of every iPhone. In a statement today, he asked that Apple “reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.” The FM radio, he said, can be used to receive “life-saving information” during disasters.

Apple said Pai’s request wasn’t possible for its newest phones. “iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. Apple seemed to indicate that it had no plans to enable FM radio on older phones either, saying that the iPhone already includes other safety features.

Most smartphones have an FM radio inside, and they have for a long time. Until recently, however, most of those radios were deactivated, so that owners couldn’t use them. There were a handful of reasons for this, but two of the more obvious ones were that if your phone receives FM radio, you’re going to be less likely to pay for music and extra wireless data — instead, you’d just tune into the radio for free.[…]

Click here to read the full article at The Verge…

Dan notes: “The one false part of Apple’s response is about the antenna. Earbuds are used for the FM antenna in mobile phones. I use mine often when I travel.” 

That’s correct, Dan–I use my Moto phone’s FM receiver a lot when travelling and, in fact, it requires earphones to operate. Some of the latest iPhones don’t even have earphone jacks, but most previous models did.

It’s too bad Apple won’t allow for the receiver to be unlocked in the models that do have FM radio. It’s such a great, accessible and free feature.

Thanks again for the tip, Dan!

Poynter: “Hurricane Harvey couldn’t silence Texas radio stations”

(Source: Poynter via Kim Elliott)

When Hurricane Harvey’s intensity became clear, employees at 93Q in Houston reserved hotel rooms across the street from the station. They were going to be very busy.

The on-air talent slept in the Cox-owned radio station for days, said Bill Tatar, digital content manager at Cox Media Group Houston. When they weren’t on-air, they did Facebook Live hits.

93Q is not normally an all-news station. But when emergencies hit, local radio stations can convey vital information: which streets are open, what shelters are taking people in and where communities can rally once the water begins to recede.

“Radio has been all over Harvey doing what radio does; immediately helping with updated information,” said Valerie Geller, a radio consultant. “Most stations dropped the format and went ‘all Harvey,’ taking calls, and across the country, stations are sending help and raising money.”[…]

Continue reading online at Poynter.

Jay’s FM radio shootout

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Ron and Troy who note that Jay Allen has posted a review comparing FM performance on a large number of radios. His takeaway? Modern portables do an exceptional job receiving FM broadcasts.

He’s got a great point, too. While I don’t spend a lot of time testing FM on shortwave rigs, I always run each radio through a benchmark FM test. Even some of the smallest, least expensive DSP-based portables I’ve tested, seem to receive my distant FM stations list with relative ease. Shortwave and mediumwave performance, however, varies greatly from unit to unit–no doubt, based on DSP implementation.

Activating mobile phone FM: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s remarks at NAB symposium

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who shares the following:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s remarks at the North American Broadcasters Association’s Future of Radio and Audio Symposium from today have been posted at

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0216/DOC-343529A1.pdf

I found the most interesting info in the statement is only 44% of the top selling smartphones in the US have an FM Chip activated have them activated. This figure pales in comparison to Mexico, where 80% of the top selling smartphones have the FM Radio chip activated.

Chair Pai goes on to state:

“You could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone. The former head of our Federal Emergency Management Administration has spoken out in support of this proposal.

[…]I’ll keep speaking out about the benefits of activating FM chips. Having said that, as a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips. I don’t believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it’s best to sort this issue out in the marketplace. For despite the low numbers, we are seeing progress; in the last two years, the percentage of top-selling smartphones in the United States that have activated FM chips has risen from less than 25% to 44%. “

Which leads me to this question for the SWLing Post community: would the benefits, emergency and otherwise, of mandated, activated FM Receiver Chips in new Smartphones sold outweigh the free market arguments?

Feel free to share your comments!

Please note: our SWLing Post comment moderators keep this site a safe haven from partisan politics–after all, we’re here to talk and play radio! Sometimes, however, local/international politics and radio intersect, but please leave partisan discussions or any animosity for specific politicians for a political site. 🙂

Brian FM: a post-disaster FM radio station in New Zealand

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(Source: Radio New Zealand via London Shortwave)

Radio ‘nutters’ move in to help shaken Kaikoura

A fortnight after the Kaikoura earthquake, most of the businesses along West End, the town’s main street, are still closed – the interiors darkened, some shopfronts cordoned off.

But the door of one of those shopfronts is open, and from it, the strains of Brian FM come floating out.

Who’s Brian?

“I have no idea,” Chris Diack says.

“People are wanting to walk in and talk to Brian all the time and there’s no Brian – there’s Chris and Robert.”

Mr Diack and his offsider, Robert Jeffares, have been broadcasting from their makeshift studio for a week now, after convincing the owner of a local frequency that was not being used to let them take over.

The content is mostly “parish pump information”, says Mr Diack – the level of detail the rest of the country might not need to hear but which is invaluable to locals trying to find out where their next hot shower might be coming from.

“The water’s off, you can’t use the toilets, if you need to use the toilets use the portaloos, and where are they … Four Square’s open at midday, get along there and get some milk, bread and butter… You couldn’t buy butter for love nor money in Kaikoura.”

In between broadcasting the minutiae of post-quake life, they conduct interviews with the district mayor, civil defence, the Salvation Army, and errant RNZ reporters who wander in to the studio.[…]

Continue reading on Radio New Zealand’s website.