Daily Inter Lake: Montana delegation pushes to keep AM radio in vehicles

by Kate Heston

Legislation to ensure AM radio remains in all vehicles is making its way through Congress.

The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023, of which U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines are cosponsors on, looks to ensure that AM radio continues to be available in new vehicles as standard equipment.

“Whether you’re a farmer, rancher, or anyone else in rural Montana — oftentimes AM radio is the best tool you have to stay informed on local news or severe weather,” Tester said in a statement.

Specifically, the act would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a rule that requires automobile manufacturers to continue to include AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without additional work or payment.

The act also looks to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate what AM broadcast radio does in reference to its reach and effectiveness in rural communities.

The legislation came after word that several large automobile manufacturers have already or are considering eliminating AM radio from newer vehicle models.

The act is sponsored by Sen. Edward Market, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

AM radio is used throughout Montana, specifically by the state Department of Transportation, Glacier National Park and the National Weather Service.

The Montana Department of Transportation uses AM radio for highway advisory radio communications, notably for construction projects, according to Lori Ryan, the public information officer for the Montana Department of Transportation.

While they don’t use the radio for travel information due to other existing options, they maintain their AM frequencies to still use the channels when needed.

“There are several spots along our highways that have AM radio signs but they are controlled by the National Weather Service,” Ryan said.

There is a similar piece of legislation going through the House of Representatives as well, also called the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023, sponsored by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Montana Reps. Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke, both Republicans, are cosponsors on the legislation.

The bills have been introduced and are now set to be discussed and voted on in their respective chambers.