Over-the-air radios in cell phones provide vital link when emergencies strike

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Your editorial of Sept. 9 (“Government should not require FM radios on cell phones”) made the case that “over the air” radio receivers should not be in cell phones because they might “drain the battery” in an emergency.

The case for over the air radios in cell phones is the extreme emergencies of recent years: Katrina, Haiti, Chile and our own ice storm of 2009. In those extreme cases there was no electricity, Internet, cell phones, regular telephones or cable.

The only communications left standing was what we know as over the air radio, something we all take for granted and that is free to the listener. During the local ice storm of  2009, Tell City was much less affected than those out in the county or those in Hancock and Daviess counties.  

The Kentucky side of the Ohio River lost everything for days. WTCJ, WLME, WBIO and WXCM had generator power and simulcast emergency information for a full week 24 hours a day. For many on the Kentucky side and parts of the Indiana side that were affected, our radio stations and staff were the only contact for official and unofficial emergency communication.

Cellular telephone  service was among the first services to go down, followed by everything else.

Had there been “over-the-air” radios in cell phones, virtually everyone could have been communicated with by local officials. That was not the case because not all homes had battery radios and the electricity was out and it was very cold outside.  This was particularly tough for older citizens in isolated areas.  

A radio in a cell phone could have made a difference for many.

With cellular phone service not operating, the cell phone was good for nothing to its owner until the cell service was restored several days later.

The case for “over-the-air” radios in cell phones is something we have all experienced and what we need to prepare for. Our new technologies are wonderful, but vulnerable.

There are 13,000 radio stations in America. History shows that they can be counted upon in time of emergency.

In most foreign countries cell phones already have radios and are well used.  We should have that in the United States.  We don’t because the telephone companies all develop their own cell phone criteria. That is not true overseas.

Cellular telephone carriers, Internet providers, and cable companies cannot guarantee communications in a crisis.

That makes radios and radios in cell phones that receive an over-the-air signal all that more important to the safety of our families.

Thank you for your point of view. I hope these comments make sense.  

We especially hope your cell phone will soon have a radio in it.  We all need to be prepared for the next emergency like we experienced with the ice storm of 2009. We will do our best to be there when you need us.
Bayard H Walters,
President, Hancock Communications Inc.