Securing Our Signal: Politicians Nearing Votes to Ensure AM Radio in Every Vehicle

Save Our Signal! Politicians close in on votes needed to keep AM radio in every car

Politicians are rallying behind a federal mandate that would require AM radios to be installed in every new car, emphasizing the crucial role of AM broadcast radio in public safety, particularly in rural areas.

While AM radio listenership has waned with the rise of alternatives like satellite radio and podcasts, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers argues that preserving access to the AM dial is paramount, especially for emergency communication.

Independent Senator Angus King of Maine underscored the significance of the AM spectrum in disseminating emergency alerts, particularly in regions lacking clear access to FM signals. He stressed that the AM frequency remains a vital source of information, especially in rural America, where it can be a lifeline during emergencies.

Joining Senator King in support of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” are Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and a host of other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The legislation was initially introduced in the U.S.

House of Representatives and the Senate last year, has garnered increased backing in recent weeks. With enough co-sponsors secured in the House, the Senate remains close to meeting the required threshold for passage, according to federal records.

Securing Our Signal: Politicians Nearing Votes to Ensure AM Radio in Every Vehicle
Securing Our Signal: Politicians Nearing Votes to Ensure AM Radio in Every Vehicle (Credits: The Seattle Times)

Under the proposed legislation, the U.S. Department of Transportation would mandate that all new motor vehicles be equipped with devices capable of accessing AM broadcast stations. This requirement would encompass vehicles manufactured domestically, imported into the country, or involved in interstate commerce.

The push to safeguard AM radio comes amid reports of some automakers phasing out AM support in their vehicles. Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts highlighted this trend, revealing that out of 20 carmakers he contacted last year, eight had removed AM functionality from electric vehicles.

Such developments raise concerns, particularly for rural and farming communities heavily reliant on AM radio for essential news and information.

Indeed, the National Association of Farm Broadcasters found that a significant majority of farmers rely on AM radio for critical updates relevant to their operations. Additionally, AM radio plays a pivotal role in disseminating highway safety information and weather updates, emphasized Senator Collins.

She stressed that the bill would guarantee the accessibility of AM service in every vehicle, thereby preserving essential communication tools crucial for rural communities.

Despite the mounting support for the legislation, the timing of potential votes remains uncertain. The bill was added to the Senate’s legislative calendar in September, but no definitive schedule has been set for its consideration.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.