Special Report: Save AM Radio!

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Show of hands, who here listens to AM radio? Probably not many anymore, at least not so’s you’d notice. As a kid, it was FM or bust. Anyways, if you’ve been here for more than a minute, or if you’ve ever chatted w/ me in the DMs over on LinkedIn, you’ll probably have seen me mention the radio a time or two.

I listened to the radio a lot as a kid. After all, what’s a kid w/ no cable at home and limited financial means to do? As I got to middle school, I started listening to the radio more often, like practically every day. I wished I could have had someone to talk to about the radio, but I didn’t.

It was either during 6th grade on a weekend, or the summer after 6th grade where I came up w/ the idea to explore the AM stations. I always had the radio on the FM dial, so this was uncharted territory for me. I planned on listening to a different AM station each day, and I wish it occurred to me to write it all down. I also wish I’d had the means to record it all, but I didn’t on both accounts.

It’s pretty much the same way it didn’t occur to me to record The Box Music Network when it was in my broadcast market toward the end of its’ existence when MTV bought em out. I’m still kicking myself over this, btw.

I may take another stab at trying to listen to a different AM station each day at some point. But for now, I’m switching between a couple different stations: a classic country station and a religious station. The country station, I’m there for the music and the weather reports. I don’t give a damn about the news reports, since they’re from a sus news outlet. The religious station airs the Cubs games when there’s one going on, and that’s literally all I care about from it.

There’s been some recent developments in the world of AM radio. It used to be the only thing you could listen to, starting w/ experimental transmissions in the 1900s. It gained a foothold in the 1920s, w/ the advent of vacuum tube receivers and transmitters. It was a huge source of entertainment, where you could listen to radio shows, music, and the Grand Ol’ Opry, or its’ predecessor, the National Barn Dance.

AM radio was the only option, until FM radio came onto the scene in the 1930s. AM radio used to be in cars, first as an add-on, then as a standard.

But that’s changing w/ today’s car manufacturers. According to this post, some car manufacturers (like Ford) have already done away w/ AM radio in their car production runs. John Catsimitidis, the CEO of WABC, states that this is a very dangerous move.

Here’s why. AM radio is part of the Emergency Alert System, and it’s also a huge part of our history. While a lot of us have access to the Internet, there are just as many who don’t. Some don’t own cell phones, and some have those old-school flip-style phones. I’ve seen instances like this at my summer job. For those among these groups, AM radio is their lifeline for news and weather reports.

I live right in the middle of Tornado Alley. We’ve had some heinous weather over the years, that’s for sure. What would happen if we were due for something big in terms of the weather, and someone was coming home from wherever? What if they had no cell phone or smartphone, no Internet access at home, and only had the local stations on network TV? If they weren’t home, they wouldn’t find out about the weather reports until they got home, and maybe by then, it would be too late.

That’s where AM radio comes in. If they have a car or have access to a car, and there’s the AM dial on it, then they can catch the emergency alerts and the weather reports. This way, they can take action and stay safe.

This isn’t even getting into how AM radio offers a wide range of choices in terms of niche or mainstream stations, as well as culturally-specific content. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve come across some pretty questionable things on AM radio, but this doesn’t ever define AM radio as a whole. Not even close.

Going back to the new developments in the automotive industry, where the decision to do away w/ AM radio has already happened, or it’s on the table for discussion w/ future production runs. This is a very short-sighted, and dangerous decision to make, b/c for those living in rural or super-remote areas, where does this leave them?

It leaves them SOL, to say the least. We can’t let that happen. So, what can we do to help save AM radio? One of my local FM stations has a list of points of contact for those living in Iowa, but if you’re living elsewhere, you can contact your own representatives, and also the car manufacturers themselves. Pete Buttigieg has spoken out about it as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

You can also sign the petition to save AM radio as well. I did. But before I go any further, I need to mention that the petition includes media created by the former vice president, who shall remain nameless, in case you’d like to do like me and leave the video in it unwatched. I also need to make it clear that this isn’t an endorsement of him in any way. In fact, it’s so far from an endorsement that it’s not even in the same area code. Even though I think he’s got some shitty worldviews, it’s the only petition addressing the end of AM radio in many cars.

Over to you, readers. Do you listen to AM radio? If so, what stations do you like? Did you used to listen to AM radio? If so, what were the stations you listened to? Do they still exist? What did you think when you heard about these car manufacturers and their decision to eliminate AM radio as an option in their production runs? Either way, I’d love to hear all about it, so drop it all like it’s hot, and let’s talk.

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