NextRadio, which began in 2012 and operated as a subsidiary of Emmis, was intended to be an industry-wide effort. But Emmis boss Jeff Smulyan said Thursday morning during an earnings call that the consortium he had hoped to build never materialized. Instead, Emmis racked up tens of millions of dollars in losses.
Emmis officials announced Thursday morning that the Indianapolis-based radio company has lost $7.6 million on NextRadio in the last 12 months alone.
The type of loss Emmis had this year with NextRadio “has been going on year after year,” Smulyan said.
After years of negotiations, Emmis finally got buy-in from a number of major cell phone carriers to allow their cell phones to activate a chip so the FM radio app would work.
But Emmis’ negotiations with other radio operators weren’t as successful. Some within the industry said cash-strapped radio operators didn’t have enough money to support the effort.
The company said it planned "to dramatically reduce the operations" of NextRadio and related business TagStation, and "explore other means of eliminating the operating losses from these businesses in the coming months."
It’s unclear what will happen to Next Radio President Paul Brenner and his staff.
Smulyan added that the staffers working on the NextRadio initiative produced “some of the most innovative and groundbreaking work I’ve ever seen. They’re brilliant, hard-working and dedicated.”