Electric Vehicle Makers are Dropping AM Radio Access

Video ended up not killing the radio star, but electric vehicles are positively destroying AM Radio. With manufacturers, drivers, and the federal government turning more and more to electric vehicles, the end of AM radio as we know it might…

Griffin Kelly
(Photo credit: Dominik Garbera/Unsplash)
(Photo credit: Dominik Garbera/Unsplash)
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Video ended up not killing the radio star, but electric vehicles are positively destroying AM Radio.

With manufacturers, drivers, and the federal government turning more and more to electric vehicles, the end of AM radio as we know it might be upon us. The New York Times reported Sunday.

Distorted Broadcasts

There’s an interesting technical reason for the fall of AM, which typically broadcasts talk and religious shows as well as local news and weather. Carmakers say electromagnetic interference from EVs disrupts signal reception, causing static, noise, and a high-frequency hum – kinda like the olden days when you had to make a phone call while someone in the house was using the internet. FM signals are less likely to get scrambled.

Some experts say the audio problems should be simple to fix. Xperi engineer Pooja Nair told the NYT that shielding cables, filters, and careful placement of electrical components in the vehicle, should keep the interference to a minimum. But all that costs money and it’s easier to just drop the wavelength altogether, much to the chagrin of the talk radio stars who make millions broadcasting to millions of listeners suck in their cars:

  • Tesla, Audi, Porsche, Volvo, and Volkswagen have already removed AM from their EVs. Ford’s popular F-150 Lightning pickup truck will also drop the signal for its 2023 model.
  • Though not as popular as FM radio, manufacturers might be forgetting just how many people tune into AM regularly. For at least two hours a day, about 47 million Americans listen to AM radio, representing about 20 percent of the radio-listening public, according to the Nielsen Company.

We’ve Got a Wave in the Air: Needless to say, radio hosts are more than perturbed. “It’s a killer for us because most of our listening audience is in the morning drive and afternoon drive, when people are going to work and coming from work — and if we’re not there in their car, we’re nonexistent,” Ron January of WATV-AM in Birmingham, Alabama, told the NYT. In a letter to 20 car manufacturers, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey said access to AM radio is an issue of public safety, especially in areas where Wi-Fi and broadband are scarce. If car makers don’t change their tune, AM radio might just go the way of dial-up.

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