A number of major auto manufacturers, including Ford, have decided to remove AM band radios from their automobiles in the coming years. While the car companies explain this as an issue with electronic interference, some conservatives see this as an attack on one of the most effective forms of messaging for the American right and a potential safety risk.
Several major auto manufacturers, including Volkswagen, BMW, Tesla, Mazda and Ford have announced that they are removing AM from their automobiles.
Ford, in particular, will be removing the popular radio format from all of their new vehicles. Ford stated that AM represented less than 5% of radio time in its cars.
"Radio is still the soundtrack of the American worker." A sad story about AM radio, the standby communications medium that, at a century old, predates the @FCC. Millions rely on it every day, but automakers are eliminating it from newer vehicles. https://t.co/kpqlNnMJQ7
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPai) May 15, 2023
The company also stated that many of the programs available on AM are also available on streaming services or FM. However, some radio hosts such as former Reagan administration official and AM mainstay Mark Levin called the effort an effort to “attack conservative talk radio.”
“The automobile is essential to liberty,” he said. “It’s freedom. So the control of the automobile is about the control of your freedom.”
Conservatives such as Levin find the arguments by the automobile giants unconvincing.
The large car makers justified the change by pointing to the added weight and cost of AM radios or that the band produces electrical interference.
However, the pushback against the phaseout of the popular medium is receiving bipartisan attention.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told Fox News that AM is essential for the future. He said that the band “literally goes through everything, goes through buildings and the way it’s built, it’s meant for an emergency.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) also argued against the end of AM bands, stating that “far too many automakers are ignoring the critical safety benefits of AM radio.”
Popular radio host and Fox News anchor Sean Hannity said that “people want more options, not less options. And this would be a direct hit politically on conservative talk radio in particular, which is what most people go to AM radio to listen to.”
One former Obama-era FEMA director wrote to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg requesting that the band remain available in American automobiles.