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Access to AM Radio in Vehicles Enhances Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Opportunity Editorial by Loris Taylor, President/CEO, Native Public Media

In an era dominated by high-speed Internet and satellite radio, the humble AM radio might seem like a relic of the past, just like a landline telephone. However, recent events have underscored its enduring importance, especially in times of crisis. The absence of AM receivers in vehicles leaves citizens and communities vulnerable.


Take it from someone who has survived two disastrous floods. Reliable communication is paramount when disaster strikes, whether it is a natural calamity or a public safety threat. Our car AM radio has long served as a lifeline during emergencies, providing crucial updates and instructions to the public. However, the absence of AM radio receivers in many new vehicles has compromised this vital communication channel.


Recent incidents, such as cellular service outages for AT&T customers, highlight the need for redundant modern communication systems. In areas with limited or disrupted cellular or Internet connectivity, AM radio remains one of the few reliable means of communication when life and property are at stake. The absence of AM radio from vehicles exacerbates the challenges first responders and citizens face during emergencies.


Nowhere is the loss of AM radio more acutely felt than in rural and remote areas, particularly among Tribal communities. Tribal communities often lose access to broadband, cellular, or electric service during severe weather, making reliance on AM radio essential for information. In crises, when every second counts, the absence of AM radio from vehicles further isolates Tribal communities and hampers emergency response efforts.


The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act (H.R. 3413; S. 1669) ensures the inclusion of AM receivers in all new vehicles regardless of make or model and recognizes the critical role of AM radio in emergency preparedness and response. The legislation ensures that no community is left behind during emergencies by bridging the communications gap in areas with limited or disrupted cellular, broadband, or electric service.




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