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

Mar 11, 2024, 3:40 PM | Updated: 3:41 pm

A radio from the 1940s at Elemente on Pierpont Ave. in Salt Lake City, Utah Wednesday April 6, 2005...

A radio from the 1940s at Elemente on Pierpont Ave. in Salt Lake City, Utah Wednesday April 6, 2005. (Keith Johnson, Deseret News)

(Keith Johnson, Deseret News)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The signal might be fading, but it can’t be lost.

That’s the message from politicians who are closing in on the required number of votes needed to pass federal legislation that requires AM radios in every new car.

The prevalence of AM broadcast radio has dipped in recent decades as more listeners turn to options such as satellite radio and podcasts during drivetime. But a large, bipartisan group of lawmakers believes saving the AM dial is critical to public safety, especially in rural America, and they want to ensure access to it via car radios.

“The emergency alert system works on the AM spectrum – that’s where people get information about emergencies,” said independent Sen. Angus King of Maine. “It’s a critical source of information, particularly in rural areas that might not have clear access to an FM signal.”

King, and Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins, are among dozens of lawmakers supporting the AM for Every Vehicle Act. Lawmakers first proposed the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate last year, and it has gained a wave of new cosponsors in recent weeks. There are now enough cosponsors to pass the bill in the House, and the Senate is only a few sponsors away, federal records state.

The proposal would have the U.S. Department of Transportation require all new motor vehicles to have devices that can access AM broadcast stations. The rules would apply to vehicles manufactured in the U.S., imported into the country, or shipped in interstate commerce.

The drive to save AM radio comes as some carmakers are phasing the format out. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a proponent of saving AM radio, said last year that he sent a letter to 20 carmakers asking them to maintain AM broadcast and found eight had removed it from electric vehicles.

That is potentially bad news for farming communities and rural parts of the country, lawmakers said. The National Association of Farm Broadcasters found last year that two-thirds of farmers listen to AM radio for news that is important to their operations.

For some farming communities, AM radio “isn’t just another option – it’s the only option,” said Jenni Tilton-Flood, a dairy farmer and owner of Flood Brothers Farm in Clinton, Maine. Even farmers who don’t personally rely on it heavily are aware of that, she said.

“It’s really important for me to recognize and acknowledge what’s important for others beyond my own farmyard and AM radio is one of those things,” she said.

AM radio is also important for highway safety information and storm and weather updates, Collins said. The bill would “would ensure the accessibility of AM service in every vehicle, safeguarding essential communication tools that are critical to our rural communities,” Collins said.

It was unclear on Monday when the proposal could come up for votes. The bill was placed on the Senate’s legislative calendar in September.

KSL 5 TV Live

Science & Technology

A graphic shows what a lava lake, called Loki Patera, may look like on the surface of Jupiter's moo...

Ashley Strickland, CNN

Unprecedented images reveal jaw-dropping features of Jupiter’s ‘tortured moon’

Close flybys of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons and the most volcanically active world in our solar system, have revealed a lava lake and a towering feature called “Steeple Mountain” on the moon’s alien surface.

2 days ago

An artist's illustration depicts Voyager 1 as it travels through interstellar space, or the space b...

Ashley Strickland, CNN

Voyager 1 is sending data back to Earth for the first time in 5 months

For the first time in five months, NASA engineers have received decipherable data from Voyager 1 after crafting a creative solution to fix a communication problem aboard humanity’s most distant spacecraft in the cosmos.

2 days ago

The New Horizons spacecraft took an image of Pluto's heart on July 14, 2015. (Johns Hopkins Univers...

Ashley Strickland

Pluto gained a ‘heart’ after colliding with a planetary body

A huge heart-shaped feature on the surface of Pluto has intrigued astronomers since NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured it in a 2015 image. Now, researchers think they have solved the mystery of how the distinctive heart came to be.

3 days ago

FILE - The Lyrid meteor shower is seen over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn off Germany, F...

Christina Larson, The Associated Press

The Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend, but it may be hard to see it

The Lyrid meteor shower is underway. But with a nearly full moon in the sky during the peak, it might be tough to see clearly.

3 days ago

Nearly 4,000 of the new Tesla Cybertrucks are being recalled because the accelerator can become stu...

Chris Isidore and Peter Valdes-Dapena

Tesla recalls Cybertruck due to accelerator pedal that can stick

Tesla has been ordered to recall nearly 4,000 of its Cybertrucks due to an accelerator pedal that can stick in place when pressed down.

6 days ago

Zach Lemann, curator of animal collections for the Audubon Insectarium, prepares cicadas for eating...

Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Would you like a cicada salad? The monstrous little noisemakers descend on a New Orleans menu

They may look like little monsters. And their seemingly endless racket may be a nuisance. But as parts of the nation prepare for the emergence of trillions of noisy cicadas, bug experts say the little creatures can also be a tasty snack.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

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