Major automakers are removing AM radios from their new models in a move that heralds the end of an era, sparking outrage from listeners, station owners, and politicians alike who lament the potential loss of an iconic part of American culture and criticize the move as “tone deaf.” Mark Levin commented on the change, saying: “The automobile is essential to liberty. It’s freedom. So the control of the automobile is about the control of your freedom. They finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio.”
The Washington Post reports that in a move that marks the end of an era, major automakers are disconnecting AM radios from their new models. The rapid pace of technological advancement and shifting consumer preferences has caused AM radio, once the soundtrack of America’s road trips, land more recently the home of conservative radio giants like Rush Limbaugh, to become obsolete.
AM radios are being phased out of electric vehicles by automakers including BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda, and Tesla due to interference issues from electric engines. Ford, a significant player in the American auto industry, plans to take things a step further and eliminate AM from every one of its vehicles.
“This is a tone-deaf display of complete ignorance about what AM radio means to Americans,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a trade journal covering the talk radio industry. “It’s not the end of the world for radio, but it is the loss of an iconic piece of American culture.”
There is no denying the impact of AM radio on American culture. It served as the platform for Ronald Reagan’s sports commentary, the medium for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, and the stage for well-known DJs like Wolfman Jack and “Cousin Brucie” Morrow.
The introduction of FM radio and digital streaming services has weakened the popularity of AM radio in America. Ford reports that less than 5 percent of in-car listening is to AM stations, despite the fact that 82 million Americans still tune into AM stations each month.
According to Alan Hall, a spokesman for Ford, customers will have other options for accessing their preferred AM content because the majority of AM stations also offer programming online or on FM sister stations. Hall stated “we will continue to offer these alternatives for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music and news.”
Breitbart News previously reported on the Ford decision:
Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood told the Detroit Free Press: “We are transitioning from AM radio for most new and updated 2024 models. A majority of U.S. AM stations, as well as a number of countries and automakers globally, are modernizing radio by offering internet streaming through mobile apps, FM, digital and satellite radio options. Ford will continue to offer these alternatives for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music, news and podcasts as we remove amplitude modulation — the definition of AM in this case — from most new and updated models we bring to market.”
However, not everyone is yet prepared to change the dial. Many AM stations don’t provide alternative listening options, and their older-skewing audience frequently lacks the technological know-how to successfully navigate the digital world.
Furthermore, listening to AM radio in the car continues to be a common practice. Bipartisan opposition has been raised to the decision to remove AM radio from cars, where about half of AM listening takes place. Democrats are concerned about protecting outlets that cater to immigrant audiences and preserving local news sources during severe weather. Republicans, however, contend that the action is a covert effort to stifle conservative talk radio.
“The automobile is essential to liberty. It’s freedom. So the control of the automobile is about the control of your freedom. They finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio,” talk show host Mark Levin told his listeners last month.
Despite these significant changes, some automakers are not yet prepared to abandon AM radio. Toyota, Honda, and other manufacturers have no plans to eliminate AM radio from their automobiles, and General Motors has not yet stated its position on the issue. The fate of AM radio is entangled in the webs of technological advancement and cultural preservation as the dial continues to turn.
Read more at the Washington Post here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan