Senator Urges Automakers to Keep Making Cars with AM Radio

he Boston Globe reports that U.S. Senator Ed. Markey just sent a letter to more than 20 car manufacturers asking them to continue including AM radios in future car models — including electric vehicles: Some EV manufacturers have raised concerns even as far back as 2016 about how the battery power of an EV can interfere with AM radio signals. However, Markey addressed these concerns saying, “car manufacturers appear to have developed innovative solutions to this problem.”
“The last time I listened to AM radio was in the late 1970s,” writes long-time Slashdot reader non-e-moose. “And then it was mostly because there were either no FM stations in reception range, or I was riding my bicycle and only had a transistor radio.”

But the Senator sees it differently: AM radio has long been an important source of information for consumers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 90 percent of Americans ages 12 and older — totaling hundreds of millions of people — listened to AM or FM radio each week, higher than the percentage that watch television (56 percent) or own a computer (77 percent)…. Moreover, 33 percent of new car buyers say that AM radio is a very important feature in a vehicle — higher than dedicated Wi-Fi (31 percent), SiriusXM satellite radio (27 percent), and personal assistants such as Google Assistant (12 percent) and Amazon Alexa (9 percent). In other words, broadcast AM and FM radio remain an essential vehicle feature for consumers.

Moreover, broadcast AM radio, in particular, is a critical mechanism for government authorities to communicate with the public during natural disasters, extreme weather events, and other emergencies. AM radio operates at lower frequencies and has longer wavelengths than FM radio, so AM radio waves more easily pass through solid objects. As a result, AM radio signals can travel long distances, making them well-suited for broadcasting emergency alerts….

Despite innovations such as the smartphone and social media, AM/FM broadcast radio remains the most dependable, cost-free, and accessible communication mechanism for public officials to communicate with the public during times of emergency. As a result, any phase-out of broadcast AM radio could pose a significant communication problem during emergencies…. Given AM radio’s importance for emergency communications and continued consumer demand, I urge your company to maintain the feature in its new vehicles…

Source: Senator Urges Automakers to Keep Making Cars with AM Radio – Slashdot

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