This spring, Volkswagen and Mazda announced that they will be removing AM radios from their upcoming fleets of electric vehicles.Tesla, BMW, Audi, and Volvo have already gotten rid of AM radios in their electric fleet. The automakers cited engineering difficulties. AM's already crackly reception is vulnerable to even more buzz and interference when installed near an electric motor. This announcement, however, incited a burst of outrage from conservative talk radio hosts, such as Charlie Kirk, who called it an "all-out attack on AM radio," and Mark Levin, who claimed, "they finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio." But it isn't just conservatives lambasting the automakers' moves — a bipartisan group of lawmakers are joining forces to stop the exclusion of AM radios from these cars. In May, Senator Ed Markey and Representative Josh Gottheimer, both Democrats, helped introduce bills that would require car companies to include AM radios. And in late June, Senators Ted Cruz and Ed Markey co-wrote a letter to seven major automakers asking them to commit by July 7 to keep radios in new vehicles. For the midweek podcast, OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger speaks with Katie Thornton, a freelance journalist and host of OTM's Peabody Award-winning miniseries, "The Divided Dial," about the dangerous myth of AM radio's reputation as a solely conservative platform, the medium's potential as a highly accessible source of local news, and what this story means for the future of AM radio.
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