How AM Radio Supports America’s Emergency Preparedness System

June 8, 2023

Listeners love their local radio stations for their favorite music and a personal connection to news and events in their communities, but radio also provides a foundation for our nation’s emergency preparedness system. Many Americans never have to worry about how the emergency system protects them, but in times of crisis, radio is there.

This week, Woof Boom Radio President J Chapman spoke at a congressional hearing about AM radio’s crucial service.

“The vast majority of Primary Entry Points (or PEP stations), which comprise the EAS, are AM radio stations and this is because: an AM station can cover a vast area, some as much as 700 miles, and AM also travels better through solid objects like mountains,” Chapman told the committee. “FEMA has invested millions to make these stations withstand natural disasters and acts of terrorism. But the stations themselves are responsible for operating in times of crisis. A car is often the only source of power and news for many in an emergency. AM radio’s presence in cars helps ensure that listeners won’t lose access to emergency alerts during times of crisis and cannot be replicated by other media.”

In addition to filling this critical role, AM radio also provides listeners – 82 million Americans each month, including many audiences who especially rely on AM – with valued programming. Black, Latino and Asian-American audiences, as well as many religious communities, rely on AM for niche and in-language programming. Agricultural communities, often with poor or non-existent cellular and broadband coverage, depend on AM radio for critical weather updates, crop reports and local information. For many vulnerable Americans, including the elderly, AM radio provides a lifeline.

In spite of these important services, some automakers have removed AM radio from electric vehicles and signaled they may remove it from more vehicles in the future. Over 100 members of Congress sent a letter to automakers urging them to maintain AM radio in all vehicles. As a result of this letter, Ford committed to including the technology in their 2024 model cars. Bipartisan legislation, the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, has also been introduced to preserve AM radio in cars.

You already know local radio is a vital part of your community and the music economy. Learn more about the ways Americans depend on AM radio.