Tuesday, May 16, 2023

AM Radio--The End of a Love Affair

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Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla and other automakers are eliminating AM radio from some new vehicles, stirring protests against the loss of a medium that has shaped American life for a century.

It is also a means used by many ministries to reach people with the gospel, strong biblical teaching, and commentary on current events from a biblical perspective.

Why are car makers doing this?

Be informed, not misled.

The Washington Post is reporting, "America’s love affair between the automobile and AM radio — a century-long romance that provided the soundtrack for lovers’ lanes, kept the lonely company with ballgames and chat shows, sparked family singalongs and defined road trips — is on the verge of collapse, a victim of galloping technological change and swiftly shifting consumer tastes."

"The breakup is entirely one-sided, a move by major automakers to eliminate AM radios from new vehicles despite protests from station owners, listeners, first-responders, and politicians from both major parties," the Post reports.

And it explains, "Automakers, such as BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda and Tesla, are removing AM radios from new electric vehicles because electric engines can interfere with the sound of AM stations. And Ford, one of the nation’s top-three auto sellers, is taking a bigger step, eliminating AM from all of its vehicles, electric or gas-operated."

Some station owners and advertisers contend that losing access to the car dashboard will indeed be a death blow to many of the nation’s 4,185 AM stations — the possible demise of a core element of the nation’s delivery system for news, political talk (especially on the right), coverage of weather emergencies and foreign language programming.

“This is a tone-deaf display of complete ignorance about what AM radio means to Americans,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a trade journal covering the talk radio industry. “It’s not the end of the world for radio, but it is the loss of an iconic piece of American culture.”

The Post reminds its readers, "For the first hundred years of mass media, AM radio shaped American life: It was where Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his fireside chats; where a young Ronald Reagan announced Chicago Cubs baseball games; where DJs such as Wolfman Jack along the U.S.-Mexico border, Larry Lujack in Chicago, Alan Freed in Cleveland, “Cousin Brucie” Morrow in New York City and Don Imus in California, Texas, Ohio and New York howled, growled and shouted out the latest pop hits."

It also gave national birth to conservative Rush Limbaugh and others like him.

More importantly to me and other Christians across the country, it provided a way to give a public voice to a biblical Christian message. 

Is it really about electric cars? Or is there more?

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, about 82 million Americans listen to AM stations each month. Ford says its data, pulled from internet-connected vehicles, shows that less than 5 percent of in-car listening is to AM stations.

The 2024 Mustang is Ford’s first internal combustion model to be marketed without AM.

But there's more to the story:

Conservative talk show host Mark Levin commented on the change: “The automobile is essential to liberty. It’s freedom. So the control of the automobile is about the control of your freedom. They finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio.”

Again, I would add "Christian radio" as well.

Michael Harrison, the publisher of "Talkers," a trade journal covering the talk radio industry, says, “This is a tone-deaf display of complete ignorance about what AM radio means to Americans. It’s not the end of the world for radio, but it is the loss of an iconic piece of American culture.”

Lucas Nolan, writing for Breitbart News says, "Despite these significant changes, some automakers are not yet prepared to abandon AM radio. Toyota, Honda, and other manufacturers have no plans to eliminate AM radio from their automobiles, and General Motors has not yet stated its position on the issue. The fate of AM radio is entangled in the webs of technological advancement and cultural preservation as the dial continues to turn."

It's also "entangled" in the blind race to eliminate dissenting voices.

At the Value Voters Summit in October 2019, Trump told the audience, "The left is trying to tear down Christian believers."

"They're trying to silence and punish the speech of Christians and religious believers of all faiths," Trump said. "They are trying to hound you from the workplace, expel you from the public square and weaken the American family and indoctrinate our children."

He's right---Even more so today than four years ago.

I don't know what's in the heart of automakers---God knows, but I do know there is a prevailing notion that the Christian message is at least a speed bump in the path of so-called "progressivism" in America. And in the minds of many Leftists, biblical Christianity is much more than a speed bump; it's a major problem that must be addressed.

And in addressing the "biblical Christian" problem, the God-given freedom of religion is being trampled whenever possible.


In a speech to the "Ministerial To Advance Religious Freedom" with more than 80 nations in attendance in addition to our own, Vice President Pence noted the frequent attacks on religious freedom. He also noted the consequences. This is an excerpt:

Since the earliest days of our nation, America has stood for religious freedom.  Our earliest settlers left their homes to set sail for a New World, where they could practice their faith without fear of persecution.  Our forebears carved protections for religion into the founding charters and their early laws.

And after this great nation secured our independence, the American Founders enshrined religious freedom as the first freedom in the Constitution of the United States.  And America has always, and will always, lead the world by our example.

As our first President, George Washington, wrote in his famous letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, he said, and I quote, “The United States of America [has] given to mankind…a policy worthy of imitation,” for here, as he said, “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”  We “require only that they who live under [our] protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

And in the long history of this nation, religious freedom has been our first freedom.  But as our Founders knew, this precious liberty is endowed not by government, but by our Creator.  And we believe that it belongs not just to the American people, but to all people so endowed.  (Applause.)

The right to believe or not believe is the most fundamental of freedoms.  When religious liberty is denied or destroyed, we know that other freedoms — freedom of speech, of press, assembly, and even democratic institutions themselves — are imperiled.

That’s why the United States of America stands for religious freedom yesterday, today, and always.  We do this because it is right.  But we also do this because religious freedom is in the interest of the peace and security of the world.

Those nations that reject religious freedom breed radicalism and resentment in their citizens.  They sow the seeds of violence within their borders — violence that often spills over into their neighbors and across the world.

And as history has shown too many times, those who deny religious freedom to their own people have no qualms about trampling upon the rights of other people, undermining security and peace across the wider world.

Who knows what the car makers have in mind? But I am certain Leftists across the country are dancing in the street, celebrating the silence of AM radio stations that are no longer heard in Ford, Volkswagen, Mazda, Tesla, and other cars in America.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Engaged. Be Active. Be Prayerful.