The ways information can be disseminated have significantly changed over a short period of time. With the rise of the internet and advances in communication technology, it is very easy to have access and share information. While texting, videos, posting, sharing, liking and condensing information in 140 characters have become more popular, traditional means of communication, like print and radio, are losing their popularity. However, they are still alive and important. There are still parts of the world in semi-isolation where electricity is a luxury, so print and radio are as important as they were back in the day.

But who really owns a radio these days?

The majority of smartphones already have an FM receiver built in them. In theory, everyone should have a simple and free access to radio. The majority of wireless carriers and phone manufacturers do not activate those FM receivers; they like you using more internet data. Activating those receivers will allow you to save money on data charges and it will improve the battery life of your device.

The National Campus and Community Radio Association is launching a campaign to pressure phone manufacturers and major service providers like Bell, Rogers and TELUS to activate the FM chip in their devices. In cases of emergency, like the Fort McMurray wildfire or the Southern Alberta floods, cell towers might go down, but radio service would remain. Radio is a traditional way for governments to communicate with the population during a disaster or calamity. Radios are reliably cheap and use very little electricity, but more importantly, provide instant communication.

Due to its important role as a trusted media and information resource and an essential asset in time of crisis, the organization hopes that listeners, broadcasters and radio facilities will join in calling upon the mobile phone industry to install and activate the FM chip receiver in all devices. According to the Free Radio On My Phone campaign, more than 90 percent of North Americans own cellphones and 60 percent of those devices are smartphones. This means that the majority of the population is getting their news, weather and music from these devices and media channels. It is time for cellphone manufacturers and major cell carries to activate FM chips.

According to the campaign’s official press release, an activated FM chip will allow you to save 3x the battery of your phone and it will save you 20x the data you use on your phone, compared with streaming services.

Mobile apps that use the FM chip in your tablet or smartphone are also available. NextRadio is a hybrid app that uses the FM chip to receive local FM radio stations and at the same time uses your smartphone’s internet connection to provide information about the music, radio station in addition to other interactive capabilities. Canada is not the first country doing this; the US has also been pressuring telecoms to activate the FM chip and they have been very successful.

You too can take action! Join broadcasters and radio listeners. When you contact your wireless providers via social media or e-mail, you join the growing group of consumers who are asking to have free radio on their phones. Hopefully, if there is enough demand among consumers, carriers will offer FM-enabled devices as some of their competitors have already done. For more information, please visit www.freeradioonmyphone.ca. At this link you can subscribe to the movement, help promote, and find resources to spread the word and contact your carriers.