AM Radio Bill Not as Lame As You Might Think It Is
AM Radio provides a necessary public service to millions of Americans
Senators Ted Cruz and Ed Markey probably don’t agree on much, but they are cosponsoring legislation to preserve the inclusion of AM Radio in all cars.
Some electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are eliminating AM radios from their cars, which government officials fear could put people at risk in an emergency.
Why it matters: AM radio is one of the critical ways that federal, state, and local officials communicate with the public during natural disasters and other emergencies.
If drivers don't have access, they might miss important safety alerts.
Cynics are no doubt going to suggest that Cruz is motivated less by public safety concerns and more by the fact that AM radio remains dominated by conservative talk personalities, particularly in rural areas.
But the importance of this legislation cannot be understated based solely on public safety and national security:
"Although many automakers suggested that other communication tools — such as internet radio — could replace broadcast AM radio, in an emergency, drivers might not have access to the internet and could miss critical safety information," says Markey.
"The truth is that broadcast AM radio is irreplaceable."
You are not always in a place with cell phone coverage. In fact, there are large swaths of the country where you can’t cell phone data coverage at all.
All those blank spots on the map? Places that lack reliable data coverage.
It’s even more apparent in Alaska.
In some places, you aren’t getting the internet. You aren’t getting data. You aren’t getting satellite. It’s just you and, if you’re lucky, your AM car radio signal. And for 92% of Americans, that AM signal can reach them wherever they are. This is the way that a lot of Americans still get their news and severe weather information. It is important they can access it.1
I’m very much against the requirements on car manufacturers coming down from Congress on the principle of it. But the Markey-Cruz legislation in this case is just common sense that should2 pass Congress with unanimous support.
Arguably, every car should come with a NOAA Weather Radio which would eliminate some of the need for AM radio, but that’s another topic for another day.