"Keeping AM Radio in Vehicles" getting broad support!

May 17, 2023 at 04:07 pm by WGNS

(WASHINGTON, DC) Executives with the Ford Motor Company and members of the U.S. Congress have been impressed with the large number of persons who listen to AM radio for local news, local ball game coverage, as well as special broadcasts when natural disasters hit a community.

In fact, when tornadoes strike, AM radio is often the only source of life saving information being received by the public. Disasters of this type often take out power lines, internet cables, cell phone towers, cable TV—their infrastructure is often the first to be destroyed.


AM Delivers Local News

AM radio becomes the only way local emergency responders get news to the community. City run TV channels that are sent out on cable, along with social media sites along with mass emails--those are all "dead in the water" when the infrastructure is wiped-out. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told government officials that AM radio is a vital part of its disaster assistance program that connects the public to government agencies.

WGNS’ listeners have responded that auto manufacturers should make certain that any car with a radio, one of the choices should be AM. They cite that this is their only source of what's happening locally, broadcast of local high school sporting events, interviews with local political leaders and neighbors--in other words AM radio gives listeners a "local connection"!

One person pointed out the window to a new Ford Explorer they just bought and said, “They’re the ones proposing this. If the idea moves forward, that’ll be the last one I buy.”

Ford proposed to drop AM from next year's vehicles

Shortly after that, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) released statistics showing over 80-million persons depend on AM radio and of that group, 25 per cent purchase Ford products.

Congress creating "AM Radio for Every Vehicle, 2023 Act"

New federal legislation known as “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act” is being created at this time. It is being sponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Tom Kean Jr. (R-NJ), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Bruce Westerman (R-AR), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA).

The initial draft of the proposed “AM Radio for Every Vehicle” legislation includes:  

  • Require the Secretary of Transportation, within one year of enactment, to issue a rule under which motor vehicles made or imported into the US would be required toinclude an installed device, as standard equipment, that can receive AM radio (including analog) signals and play AM content;
  • Ensure that AM is conspicuous to the driver in the dash;
  • In the period between enactment and prior to the Transportation Secretary issuing the new rule, require motor vehicles that do not include AM radio to be labeled as such to consumers in a clear and conspicuous manner; and
  • Direct the GAO to report on whether an alternative communication system for delivering EAS alerts exists that is as reliable and resilient as AM broadcast stations.

Under the "AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act", the Secretary of Transportation has one year to establish a standard for all new motor vehicles in the U.S. to come with AM radio reception and playback. This feature should be clearly visible on the vehicle's dashboard. Between the legislation’s enactment and the new standard taking effect, cars lacking AM radio receivers must be explicitly labeled for buyers.

This legislation ensures that the tens of million Americans who depend on AM radio for news, entertainment, and critical safety information each month can continue to have access to this reliable communications medium. As the backbone of the Emergency Alert System, AM radio is instrumental in promptly disseminating vital information across all mediums during crises, ensuring that communities remain safe and well-informed. America’s local broadcasters applaud the bill’s authors and supporters for recognizing AM radio's critical role in our nation’s public safety infrastructure.”

Looking at the legislators who drafted the amendment, shows that it is a non-partisan issue. The bill has the backing of 6 Democrats and 5 Republicans. In addition, all parts of the nation appear to be anxious to get approval. The support is from Washington state to New Mexico, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Arizona and even Nebraska. Plans are to present the bill in both congressional and legislative sessions. 

Tennessee Views

Tennessee Association of Broadcasters President Chris Baker said, “We feel very optimistic, because not only do our lead sponsors represent a diverse cross-section of geography and come from across the political spectrum, but they hold significant roles on both the Senate Commerce Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which has jurisdiction over the bill.”

Basically, the legislation would say if a new car has a radio, laws would require that one of the modes had to be AM. That would be true of vehicles manufactured in the U.S.A. or elsewhere and brought into America.

Baker commented, “We would like to get as many cosponsors as possible as soon as possible, so please call your U.S. congressman and request that they support this legislation as well.”

Baker concluded, “In most cases, the AM radio station has a lengthy history with each community in which it is located. It is usually the one people remember listening to when they were growing-up and still turning to that radio station for local news of what's happening in the community. This is not the time to slow-down, it is the time to continue encouraging federal legislators to support ."

WGNS broadcasts local news, local sports coverage, local weather and more 24/7

Since Rutherford County is the third fastest growing in the United States, there are many new residents who do not realize that WGNS came on the air 76-years ago. In fact, around 10:45 on the evening of December 31, 1946, AM 1450 rang-in the New Year. From that first day, the callsign has stood for Good Neighbor Station--WGNS

That is why WGNS continues to fill the mornings with local news from 5:00AM-11:00AM, including conversations with the mayor, police chief, sheriff, elected leaders, community movers and shakers, and more. Plus, the listeners have opportunities to phone the station with questions or text them. 

WGNS continues its 76-year history of broadcasting obituaries twice each morning, in depth weather, and even Swap'n Shop--the longest running local radio show in the area (1947). 

WGNS also covers local high school sports coverage. There are 12 public high schools in Rutherford County, as well as several private ones.  

And when weather emergencies strike, listeners depend on WGNS for information on what they need to do. 

Again, don't slow down. This is the time to contact the federal senator and congressman. Also, let your state legislators know too. It is important for them to encourage their federal co-horts to support this extremely important legislation. It's for the safety and well-being of their voters and supporters back home.