WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a major reversal and a sign that Congressional legislation just introduced last week in the House of Representatives and Senate carries some weight, even before any vote on the bills, Ford Motor Company has reconsidered removing AM radio from future vehicles in the U.S. and will now include the technology in their newer model cars.
The announcement brought immediate accolades from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and co-author of the AM for Every Vehicle Act, which is still gathering support and co-sponsors ahead of a hoped-for floor vote in the Senate.
“I applaud Ford for tuning into the concerns of millions of listeners, thousands of broadcasters and countless emergency management officials who have called for automakers to keep AM radio in their vehicles,” Markey said. “AM radio is more than just an essential safety feature—it’s a free, accessible source for anyone to listen to music, news, sports, and entertainment. Innovation in the automotive industry should mean more features, not fewer, for consumers. Ford’s reversal reflects an overdue realization about the importance of AM radio, but too many automakers are still going the wrong direction. Congress must pass my AM for Every Vehicle Act to maintain access to AM radio for years to come.”
Markey and an unlikely co-sponsor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), last week introduced the AM for Every Vehicle Act as Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) did so in the House; Gottheimer has been an outspoken supporter of AM radio and his district is within the signal contours of big New York AM spoken word stations including WMCA, WABC and WCBS.
Senators signed on to the legislation include Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). In the House of Representatives, Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-07), Rob Menendez (NJ-08), Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) are in support of the bill.
The legislation would direct federal regulators to require automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their new vehicles at no additional charge. In December, Senator Markey wrote to 20 of the world’s leading automakers asking for their plans to incorporate AM broadcast radio in new vehicles; of the 20 companies, eight responded by saying they would not incorporate AM broadcast radio in new vehicles.
Meanwhile, NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt also commended Ford for committing to keep AM radio in their vehicles, a decision “which will keep Americans safe and informed, particularly in times of emergency. With tens of millions of listeners, AM radio continues to serve as a vital lifeline to the public and a critical source of community news and exchange of diverse ideas.”
In light of Ford’s announcement, the NAB is urging other automakers who have removed AM radio from their vehicles to follow Ford’s lead “and restore this technology in the interest of listeners and public safety.”
Legeyt added that the NAB thanks “the numerous lawmakers who are leading the charge to keep AM radio in automobiles, particularly the supporters of the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. Their bipartisan voices are helping to shine a light on the need to keep this critical service. Broadcasters will continue to support this major legislation to ensure consumer access to AM radio in all vehicles.”