From reporting the latest weather updates and providing vital emergency warnings, to covering the local high school football game, 82 million Americans depend on AM radio. Despite this, some auto manufacturers have suggested removing AM radio from the dashboard.
How can I support my AM station?
Many AM stations don’t want listeners to be left in the dark. The “Depend on AM Radio” campaign assists these stations in giving their listeners the means to reach out to their legislatures and Congress to help support keeping AM radio in cars.
You can go online to submit a pre-populated email that will be sent to local legislators on why you depend on AM radio.
Listeners can also text “AM” to 52886 to contact members of Congress with a call to keep AM radio in cars.
Some auto manufacturers have begun discontinuing AM radio
A combination of technical hurdles and the belief that AM content can be accessed through streaming has led eight automakers to remove AM radio from their newer, mainly electric, vehicle models. Seemingly drawing their conclusion that whatever content AM once had a lock on can now be found elsewhere.
During the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) held from April 15th to 19th, 2023 in Las Vegas, NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt discussed a wide range of topics. This included the importance of keeping radio in the car dashboard, and specifically defending AM radio and its significance for emergency services and remote areas. "We as an industry have a role to play by stepping up and reminding the public and automakers of our ongoing relevance.”
According to Nielsen, 82 million Americans tuned into AM radio at some point over the last month.
“Those are staggering statistics and that is an audience penetration that any one of the streaming services would bend over backwards to get.” LeGeyt continued during his presentation. “This idea that AM radio has lost relevance, I think shows how focused we are on what may be coming next, and the new shiny object, and maybe a lack of appreciation for what's going on around us and how our neighbors, our family are still consuming their media.”
With automakers looking to remove AM from the car dashboard, NAB is releasing a series of PSAs highlighting the importance of AM to the Emergency Alert System and listeners’ lives.
The new “Depend on AM Radio” campaign highlights the importance of AM in the car for news, entertainment, and public safety information. “There is no more important issue for radio listeners than ensuring AM/FM signals continue to be accessible in the automobile of the future,” stated LeGeyt.
For millions of drivers, local radio is what keeps them company on their commute or road trip. In fact, nearly 90% of prospective car buyers say an AM/FM radio should be standard in every car
Campaign spots urge listeners to text “AM” to 52886 to contact members of Congress with a call to keep AM radio in cars.
Who Depends on AM?
From reporting the latest weather updates and providing vital emergency warnings to covering the local high school football game, communities across the country depend on AM radio. AM radio stations make up the backbone of the emergency alert system – the tool used to keep the public safe in times of crisis.
From small and rural markets to major cities, AM stations are among the most popular for news, sports, entertainment and weather. Over 80 million people in the U.S. listen to AM radio each month, according to Nielsen.
By offering specialized programming in languages that serve Black, Asian, and Hispanic communities, AM radio serves as a crucial link for these audiences.
With its unique ability to reach a wide geographic area, AM radio offers many Americans struggling with poor, or non-existent, cellular and broadband coverage a chance to stay connected.
Why is AM radio necessary when most people have cell phones or other electronic devices?
AM radio stations have a long reach, covering a much larger geographical area than a cell phone tower, and can be accessed by anyone with a simple radio device. This ensures that vital information is accessible to everyone, including those in rural or remote areas.
AM radio stations continue to function during power outages, natural disasters or other emergencies, providing critical updates and information to the public. Wireless Emergency Alerts may not be as reliable in these situations, as cell towers can be damaged or overwhelmed by high call volume.
AM radio stations can broadcast emergency information in multiple languages, ensuring that all members of our local communities receive crucial updates, regardless of the language they speak.
AM radio broadcasts do not require listeners to opt-in or sign up for alerts, ensuring that vital information is available to everyone. In contrast, Wireless Emergency Alerts may only be received by those who have compatible devices.
Whereas wireless alerts can tell you what is happening and where, AM radio can share many more crucial details and actionable information, such as how to stay safe, when the storm will pass or where help is located. Wireless alerts typically include “Check local media” directing people to their local AM station for lifesaving information.