“For 19 nonstop hours as Hurricane Irma lashed Florida, disc jockey Nio Fernandez broadcast updates in Spanish from the 92.5 Maxima radio studios in St. Petersburg, fielding updates from those trapped in their homes as wind and rain whipped through the area,” Daniel Flatley reports for Bloomberg. “‘There was a sense of desperation in people’s voices,’ he said of callers to the station. ‘They needed to know what was happening.'”

“Fernandez’s efforts made it possible for listeners who had lost power, cell or internet service — as many in the region had — to keep up with the storm’s progress using FM radio chips embedded in their smartphones,” Flatley reports. “But not iPhone users. Though the phone includes the FM chip, Apple Inc. has chosen not to activate the feature, a move critics say could be putting lives in danger.”

“Senator Bill Nelson of Florida is leading calls for mobile phone manufacturers to activate the FM radio chips embedded in nearly all smartphones. Those exhortations have been mainly directed at Apple, whose iPhone accounts for more than 40 percent of the U.S. smartphone market,” Flatley reports. “Critics say Apple doesn’t want to cannibalize its streaming service by giving iPhone owners access to free radio service over the airwaves. An Apple spokeswoman said the company wouldn’t comment on the matter.”

“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai devoted several minutes of a speech at a February symposium in Washington to the benefits of activating FM radio chips in smartphones. He said that, as of last year, only 44 percent of smartphones in the U.S. had their FM chips activated… At the same time, he has refused to call for a mandate requiring the chip be activated in the phones and has expressed doubt that the FCC would be able to issue or enforce one,” Flatley reports. “Pai renewed his calls for manufacturers to enable the chip during a recent trip to areas of southern Florida devastated by Hurricane Irma, telling a local TV station that the chips were valuable, ‘especially when it’s an emergency.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If the market demands it, Apple will supply it.

BTW, portable AM/FM radios can be had for under $10 on Amazon.

FCC Chairman Pai encourages activation of Apple iPhone’s built-in FM radio chip – February 16, 2017
NAB calls for Apple to switch on an iPhone feature you didn’t know you had – April 20, 2015