Endangered Species: AM Car Radios?

Endangered Species: AM Car Radios

In the 1930s, dashboard AM radios (Audio Modulation) became a standard feature in US cars, and drivers could change stations safely with push-button tuning. In the 1950s and early 60s, teenagers cruised the streets listening to Rock n’ Roll from radio DJs like Murray the K, Alan Freed, Robin Seymour, and Wolfman Jack. AM radio became part of driving for these baby boomers.

1970s car radios included the FM (Frequency Modulation). FM delivers music with less static and greater sound range, often in stereo. Music broadcasters (and listeners) moved to the FM band. AM stations are fine for voice transmission, and can be heard over greater distances. AM became the kingdom of talk radio, often religious or conservative political opinion shows.

So: talk radio, mostly conservative, is largely broadcast on AM to conservative and older listeners, prone to listening to radio in their cars. Works all the way around, right? Except that tomorrow’s electric cars likely won’t have AM radios. It costs too much to shield them from motor interference. Yet another reason for conservative oldsters to hang on to their gas burners, no matter how right-wing Tesla boss Elon Musk gets.

If a reasonably-priced workaround isn’t found, talk radio broadcasters will have to transition to FM, or teach old-timers how to use podcasts.


“Will Electric Cars Kill AM Radio?”, Jim Motavalli, Autoweek

“In a Future Filled With Electric Cars, AM Radio May Be Left Behind,” Michael Levenson, New York Times

“The End of Terrestrial Radio? Electric Cars and AM Radio,” Jim Flammang, Consumer Reports

Short link: https://wp.me/p6sb6-CKD

Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital. Download a copy here.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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