WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Lawmakers say the future of AM radio is in jeopardy after companies including Ford and Tesla announced some of their new models will no longer include AM receivers.
“If Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can certainly afford to include AM radio in his Teslas,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) says 8 of the 20 companies he recently asked confirmed plans to leave AM out of future electric vehicles.
“Automakers may not understand the importance of AM radio, but its benefits are obvious to the 47 million Americans who tune in every week,” Markey said.
Now, Markey and Gottheimer want to pass legislation requiring automakers to keep AM radios as a standard feature.
“This is not a question of do people want this. It’s a question of again, these companies are trying to save a nickel,” Gottheimer said.
These lawmakers say AM radios need to stay because the technology is crucial during a disaster.
“For news, talk shows, sports, and emergency communications,” Rep. Tom Kean (R-NJ) said.
“The emergency alerting system is actually anchored by AM radio stations,” National Association of Broadcasters President Curtis LeGeyt said.
LeGeyt says podcasts or web streams are not a good replacement for free am radio.
“Radio and AM radio, in particular, is unique, in terms of its presence in local communities, its focus on news and information, its role in times of disaster,” LeGeyt said.
Gottheimer says he is confident this bill will get the support it needs.