U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, a Kansas Republican, introduced a nonbinding resolution supporting an effort to convince vehicle manufacturers to continue installing AM radio technology at the factory. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner of Kansas denounced the decision of manufacturers to stop installing AM radio systems in new vehicles, arguing millions of people rely on that format for weather, agriculture and emergency information as well as conservative news and talk shows.
LaTurner, a Republican who serves the 2nd District in eastern Kansas, introduced a two-page nonbinding resolution with U.S. Rep. Mark Alford, a Missouri Republican, to amplify criticism of manufacturers that made the decision or were contemplating removal of AM radio technology from new vehicles, especially electric cars.
“Millions of Americans across the country rely on AM radio for crucial information or as an alternative to mainstream media outlets,” LaTurner said. “Not only is AM radio vital to the freedom of expression and ideas, but it also provides weather updates, crop reports, and emergency alerts to rural communities across America that can’t access cellular or broadband networks.”
Alford, the 4th District congressman in Missouri and a former television news anchor in the Kansas City market, said commercial radio on the AM dial was a vital communications tool.
“This isn’t a dying medium,” he said. “It’s a vibrant network that connects diverse communities across our nation. As members of Congress, it is our duty to protect this resource at all costs.”
Volvo, BMW, Tesla, Volkswagen and Mazda were among companies that moved to drop AM radio from new electric cars in wake of consternation with the irritating buzz of electromagnetic interference with audio from AM stations.
In May, bills were introduced in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to step into the marketplace with a rule requiring automakers to install AM radio in vehicles without assessing customers a special payment, fee or surcharge.
That legislation also would mandate the Government Accountability Office determine whether alternative communication systems could replicate effectiveness of AM radio in alerting the public to local, state and federal emergencies.
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat from New Jersey and sponsor of the federal AM for Every Vehicle Act, said if Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk could buy Twitter and run SpaceX rocket company it shouldn’t be a problem for him to include AM radio in Tesla vehicles.
“The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated,” Gottheimer said. “When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio.”
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