Automakers' Protests Against AM Radio Have Always Been About Money

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

The days of crackly AM radio appear to be numbered, despite efforts to keep up with emergency alert systems that depend on the technology. Automakers inaccurately complained that keeping AM radio could interfere with sensitive electronic equipment and EV features, but a new report shows that the arguments were really about their bottom lines.

The Drive reported that the Center for Automotive Research and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation released a joint document arguing against keeping AM radio in cars, following the bipartisan AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023.

While passionate, the groups’ statements boil down to one thing: money. Their arguments against AM radio included debunked claims of interference with EV technology, but automakers have also been removing AM from gas-powered cars. Plus, as The Drive pointed out, the Venn diagram of people who buy EVs and listen to AM radio has a very small overlap. AM radio listeners tend to skew toward right-wing media, which hasn’t been so welcoming of electric vehicles.

Others point to the gross overestimates of expenses related to keeping AM radio. One spokesperson told Automotive News that the expense would only be a fraction of the auto industry’s estimates.

The good news for AM radio is that the auto industry appears poised to lose its fight. There’s overwhelming support for the AM radio legislation in Congress, and officials from agencies like FEMA have spoken out in support.

[Image: Tuckraider via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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6 of 43 comments
  • Wjtinfwb Wjtinfwb on Nov 09, 2023

    In mid-markets AM is the bomb for sports talk and local news. The least expensive AM/FM Bluetooth radio (a Jensen) is under 50 bucks on Crutchfield. Figure GM and Ford buy what, a million radio chassis a year, I'm guessing their radio components maybe cost $10. AM is maybe a dollar of that. $1 x 1 million, a million bucks on the bottom line. Just the cash Farley needs for tires on his GT40 & Cobra!

  • Wolfwagen Wolfwagen on Nov 10, 2023

    AM radio still has its place, Many states DOT use AM to broadcast messages in certain areas. AM also has traffic updates in your bigger metropolitan areas. Yes waze or other navigation apps/devices can help you, but sometimes listening to the radio gives you additional info. When traveling back to Long Island from being out of state, I flip over to the AM stations and check traffic listening to 3-4 stations until I make my crossing into the city

    • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Nov 11, 2023

      I've spent many an hour listening to 880 AM sitting in traffic. It was a valuable part of the commuter's arsenal.

  • Norman Stansfield Norman Stansfield on Nov 11, 2023

    If AM radio cost too much, EV manufactures can recoup the cost by leaving out fake engine noises.

  • Doc423 Doc423 on Nov 15, 2023

    " AM radio could interfere with sensitive electronic equipment and EV features", what a Crock of stupid do they think we are???