Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) today released a report detailing the public safety importance of AM radio, which serves as the backbone of the Emergency Alert System. NAB is releasing the report as momentum grows in Congress for legislation to ensure AM radio is accessible to the public in all vehicles.
“When disaster strikes, AM radio has proven time and again its invaluable role as a source of factual, authoritative, up-to-the-minute information that saves lives,” said NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “It is also a home to a diversity of programming that is often unavailable on other mediums and particularly important to otherwise underserved communities. It is critical that Congress address the need for AM radio capability in vehicles to ensure Americans can turn to local AM stations when they need them the most.”
AM radio serves local communities in two vital ways during emergencies: through the dissemination of emergency alert signals and by providing a reliable source of trusted news. The report highlights AM radio’s unique role in the Emergency Alert System (EAS), the national public warning system commonly used by state and local authorities to deliver critical emergency information over television and radio. The EAS relies on broadcast stations to relay emergency messages, with more than 70 radio stations – the vast majority of which are AM stations – serving as Primary Entry Points that initiate the message and spread it to other communications medium across the country.
AM radio also connects diverse communities with programming in multiple languages and serves as a lifeline in rural America where cellular and broadband access can be unreliable.
The report documents AM radio’s critical role in natural disasters when other communications networks fail, including examples of stations’ response during the Maui wildfires, the Tubbs Fire in northern California and an outbreak of tornadoes in Arkansas. Listeners recount how they heard about the emergencies through their local AM radio stations, which allowed them to evacuate to safer areas, stay informed after the danger had passed and learn authoritative information in the face of misinformation on online platforms.
The report urges the full House and Senate to support the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. This legislation would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule requiring vehicles manufactured in or imported into the U.S. to have devices installed that provide access to AM radio. In addition to 240 members of Congress, the bill has support from emergency management officials, communications professionals and groups representing rural, elderly and other diverse communities.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America’s broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.