February 14, 2024 Blog

Washington Post (opinion): Turning the Dial on AM Radio

By John Bozzella

AM radio in cars isn’t a both-sides issue. Some in Congress want to require analog AM radio in all new vehicles. That’s unprecedented. And unnecessary. (Congress, don’t touch that AM radio dial; February 8, 2024)

Consumers have access to a lot of (superior) options while driving: digital AM and FM, internet-based radio, streaming and satellite radio. By the way, there’s finite real estate in dashboards to house these newer technologies.

In electric vehicles, the analog AM radio issue is especially acute. The high-voltage electrical systems generate interference that distorts AM signals and makes already fuzzy AM basically inaudible. Techniques to reduce interference mess with battery range (by adding weight) and would cost an estimated $3.8 billion through 2030. That used to be called an unfunded mandate.

Safety? Air bags, brakes and seat belts are necessary for safety (and mandated). FEMA recently tested an emergency alert, and only 1 percent of adults heard it on AM.

I suppose Congress could pass not only a law requiring AM radio in every vehicle but also a law requiring every American to listen to it, too.

Otherwise (and on this we agree): “It isn’t Congress’s role to prop up the [radio] industry by forcing automakers to install a feature the market says isn’t worth the while.”

John Bozzella is president and CEO of Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

*Originally appeared in Washington Post (Turning the dial on AM radio; February 14, 2024)