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NextRadio Emmis

PHONES ARE BLOWING UP: When you hear the phrase "hybrid radio smartphone app," do your eyes glaze over? Well, what about the phrase "more money for radio stations"? That's the thinking behind the push for participation in this tech, based on activating a receiver chip already present in numerous smartphone models. Unlike streaming, which has proved costly for providers (who pay often stratospheric royalties) and consumers (whose data plans jack up their bills), hybrid--of which Sprint's NextRadio app for Android and Windows phones is the leading example--is an NAB-approved adjunct to broadcast and brings free content to listeners. But the options for interactive and other advertising crafted for mobile present mad new revenue possibilities for stations. Oh, and also graphics synched to station audio, song and artist IDs, and other stuff digital-era consumers expect. With the next generation of auto dashboards expected to embrace mobile heavily, "terrestrial" radio could thus considerably expand its reach. Small wonder word has spread of co-developer Emmis urging FM stations to jump aboard pronto; the group hosts a forum on the venture on 2/27. The app's expected to roll out in mid-2013. (2/21p)

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