Stop killing AM radio in electric cars, NJ congressman tells EV makers

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
NJ congressman fights to keep AM radio in electric vehicles
Congressman Josh Gottheimer from NJ wants to make sure that AM radio doesn't get phased out in newer electric vehicles like Teslas, Ford and more.

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- Is AM radio dead -- on your electric car stereo?

Not if one New Jersey congressman has anything to do with it.

Several electric-car makers have been ripping out AM radio from new car dashboards, saying that modern vehicle systems interfere with the AM signal.

U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer announced legislation Tuesday to push back on the trend and encourage EV manufacturers to include AM radio in their cars and trucks.

Tesla took AM radio out of its vehicles in 2018 and now Ford is following suit, along with Audi, Porsche, Volvo and Volkswagen.

There are 4,500 AM radio stations nationwide -- 77 in New Jersey -- with 50 million listeners.

Gottheimer said AM radio is the backbone behind America's National Public Warning System, which provides emergency-alert and warning information to the public during major natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, chemical incidents, health emergencies, and other domestic threats and emergencies.

He said during the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, AM radio was the primary means of communication.

"I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other car manufacturers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk," Gottheimer said. "The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt, and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed. When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn't work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio."

Gottheimer says more than 47 million Americans - about 20% of the radio-listening public - listen to AM radio and time spent listening to AM radio has risen over the past five years.

"AM stations are the backbone of the Emergency Alert Systems in America," said Jordan Walton with the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. "And when the power is out televisions go black, WIFI is down and before long cell phone batteries are dead."

Ford issued a statement saying, "A majority of U.S. AM stations and automakers globally are modernizing radio by offering internet streaming through mobile apps, FM, digital and satellite radio options. Ford will continue to offer these alternatives as we remove amplitude modulation - the definition of AM in this case."

As for the Tri-State, for many, AM radio is a creature of comfort.

"The good thing about radio is that it's been around for over 100 years and the death of it has been yelled many times," said Mike Demargis, professor of broadcasting at Iona University Mike Demargis. "Radio will survive. AM radio will survive."

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