In a time when every song is available at our fingertips, podcasts cover nearly every subject imaginable and most of our communication is via cellphones, it may seem as though AM broadcasting — the first method developed for making audio radio transmissions — is becoming obsolete. We disagree.
Unlike FM broadcasting, which is based on line of sight — meaning the direct path from a transmitter to the receiver as well as the obstructions that may fall in that path — AM waves can pass through anything, and listeners are still tuning in. A Nielsen survey conducted last fall found that AM broadcasting’s monthly audience in the U.S. was more than 82 million, including many listeners who live in rural areas.
Unlike most of its technological counterparts, AM radio is free and reliable during natural disasters and inclement weather. …
“During those emergencies, it is vitally important that federal, state and local officials be able to deliver emergency warnings and other information to their citizens,” Kentucky Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron and 14 other AGs wrote in a letter to the Electric Drive Transportation Association and the Zero Emission Transportation Association opposing the removal of AM radio from EVs.
“(AM radio reaches) 90% of the U.S. population and ensures that state and federal agencies can quickly, dependably and cheaply distribute life-saving information across vast geographical areas.”
In addition to providing emergency warnings, AM radio is a source for local news, sports, weather, political commentary and music.
Last month, broadcasters met in Washington, D.C., to encourage legislators to pass a measure requiring automakers of electric vehicles to continue to put AM receivers in new cars.
According to those in the auto industry, EVs create interference with a signal that can make AM transmissions difficult to hear. After originally saying that higher costs and a lack of listeners led to the decision to remove the service from Ford and Lincoln models, the company’s CEO announced in May that the service would be provided in all 2024 models.
We hope that other vehicle manufacturers will follow in Ford’s tire marks and see the value AM broadcasting provides not just Kentuckians, but all U.S. residents.