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Just when you thought AM radio was a thing of the past, as various automakers are eliminating an AM radio from their vehicles, U.S. lawmakers want to bar automakers from doing that very thing. 

Reuters and Automotive News reports that a group of bipartisan U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation to prevent automakers from eliminating the AM broadcast radio from their vehicles. 

Eight automakers including Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen have removed the AM radio from their vehicles. Ford has eliminated the AM radio from Mustang MACH-E and F150 Lightning but has had a change in policy and will continue to include an AM radio in their entertainment systems for the 2024 model year. 

The lawmakers contend that eliminating AM radio undermines a federal system for delivering key public safety information. 

The alliance for Automotive Innovation representing major automakers points out the Public Alerts and Warning System (PAWS) can distribute warnings across FM, internet based or satellite radio and over cellular networks, However the lawmakers contend that there is a clear public safety imperative here. Having AM radio available in our vehicles means we always have access to emergency alerts and key warnings while we are out on the road. 

Lawmakers also maintain that AM radio is a free accessible source for anyone to listen to music, news, sports and entertainment such as public broadcasting and talk radio.. The lawmakers also contend that AM radio should not be buried behind a costly digital paywall. 

A 2018 study has revealed that more than half of radio listeners in the U.S. tune in on AM radio while commuting. It’s no surprise that AM radio lost its place in modern times with the rise of FM. If for nothing else, FM radio’s ability to deliver higher bandwidth (and thus, higher quality) set it apart from older AM tech. But there is still one key advantage: long-distance mass communication. AM can transmit for significantly longer ranges under optimal conditions—we’re talking hundreds of miles versus tens. This is where public safety comes into play. 

 More specifically, lawmakers feel that in the event of a disaster, it would be difficult to transmit mass communications without the ability for citizens to have access to AM radio. Former FEMA director Craig Fugate once called it “the last line of communications” for local, state, and federal disaster response and relief efforts. 

It’s also argued that AM radio tech is so cheap that there’s almost no reason to pull it from vehicles. Automakers argue that cost isn’t the only factor at play. 

I’m sure anyone reading this will recall the annoying static that auto ignitions systems are known to cause. So what happens to an AM radio in an electric car? 

The obvious answer is that static would be far worse which is why most manufacturers of EV vehicles are leaving the AM radio out. Some experts say the reception problems could be controlled with shielding cables, filters and careful placement of electrical components in the vehicle. 

So, enjoy the static while listening to Michal Savage tellin’ it like it is about our politicians or Dan Patrick giving you the lowdown on sports or that baseball game you don’t want to miss, fire up that AM radio. 

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