AM/FM radio has been a resilient medium in the Internet era, but that resilience is weakening. Before there was Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube and PowerAmp, people would listen to music on the radio. And many people still do listen to the radio. Older cell phones often came with an FM tuner, however, we are seeing more and more high-end smartphones not having this classic feature.
Almost everybody that you see owns a smartphone, and this number is increasing rapidly. These smartphones give you easy access to internet radio through apps that run on multiple platforms. It’s not like the world had not seen portable MP3 players before. But the smartphone’s massive penetration has taken this accessibility to an all new level. There was a time when the only way you could hear a hit was to tune into an FM or AM station. Today, there are innumerable options. We have internet radio, satellite radio, services like Pandora, iTunes and our very own playlists.
While radio was able to survive and adapt to the introduction of television, new digital services are beginning to change the way people listen to music, endangering radio once again. Radio, and music radio in particular, is now falling behind as audiences have begun to move on and listen to music on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and other digital services via smartphones at listening locations and times of day that have been radio’s exclusive province for nearly a century: in the car and during drive time.
FM Radio isn't dead yet. It's still available on a slew of phones. But there's certainly a trend toward the technology being taken out of handsets. It’s a little-known fact that most smartphones have the capability of receiving FM radio signals. The technology is present in the hardware, but many manufacturers and/or carriers don’t activate the chip. Some are starting to see the light though. Companies are teaming up with NextRadio to bring FM service to their new phones.
Radio might seem outdated, but it has its uses. First of all, it's free. Additionally, the NextRadio app, which connects to local FM stations, uses significantly fewer resources than traditional streaming services — to the tune of 20 percent less data and three times less battery. And finally, in an emergency, FM radio is much more reliable to send and receive information than other services.