By: Jason Cohen, Daily Caller News Foundation
Numerous electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are removing AM radios from new vehicles despite backlash from station owners, listeners, first responders, and politicians across party lines, according to The Washington Post.
Automakers including BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda and Tesla are eliminating AM radios from the latest EVs due to sound interference caused by electric engines, according to the Post. Ford, one of the largest car sellers in the country, is removing AM radios from all its vehicles, both EVs and gas-operated; critics say that this move by automakers will be a fatal blow to a substantial portion of the U.S.’ 4,185 AM stations.
AM radio is a crucial component of how Americans receive news, political discussions, weather emergency coverage and foreign language programming, according to the Post. Additionally, it will disproportionately impact conservative talk radio as eight out of 10 of America’s most listened-to radio talk shows are conservative, according to data from Talkers, a trade journal focused on the talk radio business.
“The automobile is essential to liberty. It’s freedom,” conservative radio host Mark Levin told his listeners in April. “So the control of the automobile is about the control of your freedom. They finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio.”
Over 82 million Americans tune into AM radio stations every month, according to the National Association of Broadcasters. While the AM demographic is aging, Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, told the Daily Caller News Foundation it has some years left and it is premature for car manufacturers to dispose of them.
“From a purely economic position of self-interest, it is understandable why car manufacturers might consider AM radios expendable and are willing to toss them out like cassette players, eight-tracks, and CD players,” he said. “However, what they are failing to understand are the cultural aspects of the longtime symbiotic relationship between AM (and FM) radio and automobiles – a culture still adhered to by a large, still-living segment of the population to whom this relationship remains important.”
“A segment that still buys a significant percentage of automobiles,” he added. “A segment that is going to be around for some time to come. Couldn’t the car manufacturers wait another 5 years or so?”
Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts sent a letter to automakers, pushing them to reconsider their decision due to the potential of an emergency where drivers may be unable to access the internet and vital safety information.
“Radio has long been supportive of car culture in America and deserves special consideration,” Harrison added. “It’s been a two-way street! Not only is this decision premature, it is a betrayal.”