The importance of AM Radio in vehicles

by the Alaska Dept. of Law

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor emphasizes the importance of AM radio stations for emergency situations as some car manufacturers consider removing AM radio in electric cars, in a letter he joined along with 14 other state attorneys general.

“Alaska ranks 7th in the nation for AM radio reach,” said Attorney General Taylor. “In some communities AM radio is the only radio station available. We’ve got to impress upon trade groups and electric vehicle carmakers how important AM is and why keeping it in vehicles is critical.”

In the letter to two automobile trade groups, Electric Drive Transportation Association and the Zero Emission Transportation Association, the state attorneys general write, “The decision to eliminate AM radios is even more problematic in light of the Biden Administration’s goal of ‘having 50 percent of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030.’

While we oppose the Biden Administration’s efforts, they underscore that removing AM radios from electric cars threatens the entire AM radio industry. Without access to their main consumers—automobile owners—AM stations, and the lifesaving signals they provide, might cease to exist.”

“Alaska is vast and AM radio is the only broadcast media that reaches some Alaskans,” said Director Bryan Fisher, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “AM radio is a tried and true system that we have used for generations to send out emergency messages, such as tsunami warnings. DHS&EM cannot support any effort to reduce our ability to communicate these critical life-saving messages.”

The State of Alaska Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a partnership between the State and the Alaska Broadcasters Association to distribute emergency messages statewide, such as Tsunami Warning, Weather Warnings, and Amber Alerts. In many areas of the state, with limited communications capabilities, AM radio is the only means of receiving an EAS Message.

“Removing free, over the air AM radio would clearly hinder the business operations of Alaska AM stations and more importantly, critically injure broadcasters’ ability to reach Alaska citizens in times of emergency. When the internet and power are out, radio – and particularly AM radio – is a lifeline to us all,” said Cathy Hiebert, Executive Director of the Alaska Broadcasters Association. “Alaska farmers and ranchers are extremely reliant on AM radio for weather, market reports and more, which is especially critical in our most rural areas where reliable broadband is yet to be deployed. Urban residents across the state rely on AM radio for news, weather, sports and more. AM radio also plays a vital role in connecting Alaska Native communities with stations that serve, in some cases, in-language programming,” she said.

In addition, the following organizations use AM radio as a source for dissemination of information, Hiebert said.

• Admiralty Island National Monument, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDAFS) – (fixed Information Station)

• Alaska Aerospace Corporation Aurora Launch Services, Kodiak Island – 1610AM (fixed RadioSAFE System)

• Denali National Park, National Park Service (NPS) – 1610AM (fixed Information Station)

• Kenai Fjords National Monument, National Park Service (NPS) – 1610AM (fixed Information Station)

• Mendenhall Glacier/Admiralty Island National Monument, National Park Service (NPS) – 1610AM (fixed Information Station)

• University of Alaska, Anchorage – 1610AM (fixed Information Station)

Attorney General Treg Taylor joined Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.