June 24, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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The fight to keep AM in the car – Radio Vision

The fight to keep AM in the car – Radio Vision

Medium wave, the broadcast band where radio became big, these days mainly evokes memories of a time when the medium came of age. But that AM was abolished without much fanfare in Belgium, while in the Netherlands it became the playground of benevolent amateurs. And the band is also adapting in America. Although…

Some media organizations have begun lobbying to permanently equip car radios with the possibility of receiving medium waves. Cumulus and Red Apple Media, the owner of 77 WABC in New York City, put their shoulders to the wheel after the car manufacturer announced it wanted to ban the Ford AM altogether.

A bill was introduced in the US Senate this week that would require all new vehicles to include an AM radio at no extra charge. It was a ‘bipartisan’ proposal, so both a Democratic (Ed Markey) and Republican (Ted Cruz) Senator. The motion has already been ‘sponsored’ by two senators and four MPs from both parties, but it remains to be seen whether it has any chance of succeeding. Car manufacturers are not going to allow this to be forced.

Relevance is diminishing

The decline of the middle wave has also been going on in the US for years. The band thrived on the rise of news, talk and sports stations in the early 1980s, and after music radio migrated to high-end FM, history seems to be repeating itself. In the last twenty years, the number of listeners has fallen by half, and only 15 percent of Americans use one or more of the more than 4,100 active stations each week. Additionally, two-thirds of AM listeners are over the age of 55.

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That is why many talk stations are migrating to FM or broadcasting their programs on both bands. Recent years include KNX News in Los Angeles and 1010 WINS in New York City. In addition, medium wave is increasingly digitized with HD-Radio. In short: AM is becoming less relevant in America as well.

President Biden’s fault

In recent years, new cars have come on the market with a specific regulation of not having an AM radio. The same was the case with Tesla, Volkswagen and BMW. Fox News anchor Sean Hannity has also noticed that AM is missing from his car radio. He himself presents a three-hour political program every weekday, which airs on several talk stations, mainly in the AM.

According to Hannity, the removal of AM was a result of President Biden’s Green Policy. This is nothing more than another attempt by Biden to kill conservative talk radio. Or everything in America is currently being politicized.

Alarm bells are ringing

But even now Automaker Ford has announced that AM will no longer be available in some new models, multiple alarm bells ringing simultaneously. Electric cars and gas vehicles will be manufactured without AM. Ford defends itself by saying that it is more difficult to achieve interference-free reception of medium wave in electric models.

Ford was the first major US car manufacturer to ban AM from a car. Radio companies look at it with dismay and try to wave it away. They’ve started a lobby — too late, admittedly — to maintain AM reception. Meanwhile, ads can be heard inviting listeners to send a text message in support of the action.

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The reasons given are questionable. For example, Cumulus has created a special action page where statistics must demonstrate the relevance of AM. Unfortunately, all these figures are linked to FM reception. Also, the business says that AM is essential for warnings (emergency warning system) during disasters, when internet, electricity and mobile phone can be cut off during disasters. The only source of information is the car radio.

But disaster and calamity warnings are broadcast on FM by most radio stations. Since many medium wave stations mainly broadcast network programs created hundreds of kilometers away, the question remains of how necessary the coverage of AM is. Naturally, AM signals generally travel farther than FM signals.

The car industry is passing the ball back to the media companies: “You’re making AM radio obsolete yourself, why should we care?” (BVP – Radio World)