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Menendez, Cruz, Markey lead bipartisan effort urging FEMA, other federal agencies to work together to ensure AM radio remains available in all new vehicles

According to Nielsen, radio continues to play a vital role in our society – with 47 million people in the U.S. listening to AM radio every week

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Thursday led a bipartisan effort urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to work with other federal agencies, automakers, broadcasters, and public safety officials to address interference and engineering issues that are leading some automakers to eliminate AM radio from new vehicles, and electric vehicles (EVs) in particular, and to encourage the continued availability of AM radio in new vehicles.

“During disasters, extreme weather events, and emergencies, AM radio has proven itself to be a crucial source of news and information for affected communities. While mobile phones are ubiquitous and many Americans receive emergency alerts via Wireless Emergency Alerts, disaster events often knock out electricity and fixed and mobile broadband networks,” wrote the senators to FEMA Administrator Criswell and other federal agency officials. “In contrast, the propagation characteristics of AM broadcast signals are particularly well-suited for broadcasting critical information over long distances, allowing people with AM radios to continue to receive critical, and possibly life-saving, information.”

According to Nielsen, radio continues to play a vital role in our society. For example, 47 million people in the U.S. listen to AM radio every week. In times of emergency, such as natural disasters and extreme weather events, Americans turn to trusted, reliable, and local sources—such as AM radio—for news and information.

“The resiliency and range of AM broadcast signals have long-made it a reliable platform for local communities, rural areas, and non-English broadcasters, and a dependable tool for public safety officials to communicate life-saving messages during emergency events,” wrote the senators. “This is why FEMA’s National Public Warning System relies primarily on AM broadcasters to deliver alerts and emergency transmissions, and why the agency has invested a great deal of resources to ensure AM broadcast stations can withstand extreme weather events and remain operational during blackouts.  Recently, seven bipartisan former FEMA Administrators wrote to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg warning that removing the capability to receive AM broadcast signals from automobiles would harm the efficacy of the NPWS and could undermine public safety.”

The senators highlighted how interference issues between EVs and AM signals are resolvable. However, several automakers are no longer offering AM radio as a standard feature in EVs, and some are phasing it out of new vehicles entirely.

“This is occurring as the Biden Administration has set a goal for EVs to comprise half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations that could result in EVs making up 67 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales by 2032,” the senators said. “These targets should not conflict with ensuring that drivers and passengers continue to have access to potentially life-saving information during power outages and internet blackouts.”

“We urge you to collaborate with government stakeholders at the Federal Communication Commission; the Department of Transportation; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and state, local, and Tribal governments that rely on AM radio for emergency alerts, as well as automakers, broadcasters, and first responders and public safety officials to ensure that the NPWS continues to be resilient, reliable, and accessible in all automobiles during emergencies,” the senators said.

Last month, Sen. Menendez joined Sen. Markey and several other colleagues in introducing the AM for Every Vehicle Act. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would direct federal regulators, including the Secretary of Transportation, to issue a rule requiring automobiles manufactured or imported into the country to include devices, installed as standard equipment, that can receive signals and play content transmitted by AM broadcast stations.

Joining Sens. Menendez, Cruz, and Markey in signing the letter are Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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