us politics

The Battle Over AM Radio Is Now Playing Out On Capitol Hill

EV automakers want to remove the option from new models. The Battle Over AM Radio Is Now Playing Out On Capitol Hill Giphy

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If you’re like many motorists, you might not remember the last time you tuned into an AM radio station. FM stations long ago secured prominence, with satellite and internet options taking an even bigger bite out of all types of terrestrial radio transmissions over the past few decades.

But while automakers are pushing to remove AM radio in new vehicles, that effort is facing some serious pushback from federal lawmakers.

Digging into the debate

AM radio, by its very nature, is old-school. And this analog service is at odds with the high-tech world in which modern automobiles — particularly electric vehicles — are made. That’s why advocates for a cleaner auto industry, like ZETA executive director Albert Gore, say AM stations should not be a requirement.

He said such a mandate “would do little to expand drivers’ ability to receive emergency alerts” while negatively impacting the “range, efficiency, and affordability” of EVs.

But it is precisely that access to emergency alerts that is driving the bipartisan support for the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which would require AM transmission (at no extra cost to consumers) in every new vehicle.

Sens. Edward Markey, a Democrat, and Ted Cruz, a Republican, sponsored the bill and called AM radio “a lifeline for people in every corner of the United States to get news, sports, and local updates in times of emergencies.”

Forecasting the future

As it stands, the legislation has support from more than half of each congressional chamber, which bodes well for its passage. And with an estimated 82 million AM radio listeners nationwide, plenty of Americans would favor such a guarantee.

But with the vast majority of consumers now receiving alerts via smartphone, it might still just be a matter of time until AM radio has gone the way of the dodo.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee May 4th, 2024
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