The Unfinished Voyage


(By Deborah Parenti) After yesterday’s news that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has moved the AM For Every Vehicle Act to the full Senate floor for a vote, there is reason for a certain amount of measured celebration.


Yes, this is a huge, wonderful step forward, but it’s also a predictable one. A not-insignificant percentage of Senators who co-sponsor the Act sit on the Commerce Committee. Consider this a passage out of a safe harbor, past the breakwaters, and into a tumultuous sea ahead. We now know our ship will hold water, but the larger test remains. It is still entirely too early to declare victory and rest on our laurels.

The warning signs are already here:

Commerce Committee member and Michigan Democrat Sen. Gary Peter changed his initial “Yea” to a “Nay” after the hearing, preventing unanimous passage.

While the senator offered no reason for switching sides, the fact that he represents the automotive capital of the country could be a harbinger of a larger fight from a much larger foe. In 2022, automakers spent more than $47,000,000 lobbying Congress. Whether it’s the “Big Three” or up-and-comers like Tesla, this is an industry that does not play to lose.

In addition, the timing of SiriusXM’s recent boasting of its enhanced FEMA emergency alert connectivity (albeit an inferior service compared to what AM delivers) is, shall we say, interesting, as the subscription service only has money to gain from less free competition in the dash.

We’re playing politics. It would be foolish to think that aggressive and even intimidating tactics might not come into play before the Senate votes, especially in states where automobile manufacturing plants have a major presence. Fortunately, we do have some powerful allies and voices on our side – names like Cruz, Markey, Cantwell, Gottheimer, and let’s not forget LeGeyt, as well as the everyday Americans who depend on AM.

So while we should all applaud yesterday’s huge progressive step, let’s not stop now. More than ever, the case for AM For Every Vehicle needs to continue to be front and center among radio’s lobbying efforts. And while pressing Congressional representatives to support the bill, it might also be a good time to thank the NAB for its leadership in this extremely important effort.

I do not mean to take away from the celebration – I made several happy phone calls when the news broke – but there remain more steps to climb and conquer. Now AM needs to commit to delivering exactly what the industry is making a stand on: local service to communities from the coastline to the heartland.

Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. Reach Deborah at [email protected]. Read her Radio Ink digital archives here or read her latest column with a digital or print subscription here.


  1. Deborah, your words are perfect, and you’re seeing the picture (through the clouds) very clearly. It’s a political game and the ones spending the big bucks are going to do all they can to win. Radio’s end user has so many choices, they will seek out the best choice. In many markets AM radio has less than 10% of the AQH listeners. Making it mandatory is like telling me I have to have a horse on standby if there’s another oil crisis. The most simple AM delivery service has been crippled through consolidation, elimination of the main studio, inferior receiver quality, duplicate programming, limited appeal and interference that today makes most AM signals unlistenable. Adding FM translators has done little to alleviate the issues facing AM radio today and to expect that the battle for AM (and eventually FM) is going to be an easy win is overly optimistic and fails to address the fundamental challenges plaguing the radio industry. Thank you, Deborah


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