Can This EU ‘Playbook’ Ensure Radio’s Future In US Cars, Too?


The fight to keep radio, particularly the AM band, in the automobile dashboard has shaped much of the industry conversation in the United States for the past year. Now broadcasters worldwide are joining in, and in Europe, they’re pushing for a solution.

Electric vehicle manufacturers have started to remove AM radio from vehicles under the guise of electromagnetic interference and the additional cost of insulating the wiring.

Traditional radio remains the most favored and frequently used audio medium in vehicles, tying an eight-year-high in its share of listening in the US in 2023. Overseas, that percentage can rise even higher. Radio is also imperative in the car as a stable and reliable source of essential information in times of crisis.

As such, the European Broadcasting Union, operators of Euroradio and Eurovision, tasked Sweden’s Sveriges Radio Head of Digital Partnerships Tomas Granryd with finding a solution that benefits all parties. The project has been named “The Playbook.”

While some companies making EVs say that AM radio is still available by connecting streaming devices via Bluetooth or USB or the car’s entertainment center, Granryd noted that the Sveriges Radio Play app was hampered by a dismal dashboard experience. As Sveriges Radio notes in a promo video for its CarPlay app, “If we lose the audience in the car, radio is in serious trouble.”

The broadcaster found the placement of streaming services on car dashboards often favors paid services from global giants giving a cut to automakers, despite many radio apps now offering any combination of linear radio channels plus on-demand news, music, and podcasts.

The Playbook seeks to address these issues by advocating for greater collaboration across the radio and automotive industries, operating systems, app stores, and beyond. The project aims to establish a unified, three-prong strategy to ensure radio and related content maintain a prominent position in the connected car environment.

The Playbook
(Sveriges Radio)

Firstly, The Playbook focuses on traditional broadcast radio. The plan would see automakers make sure OTA offerings remain in the dashboard, are impossible to miss, and look good on the screen. The trade-off is that broadcasters will keep offering quality, free content, remain reliable, and provide correct metadata.

The second Playbook step is to focus on internet offerings, like mobile or in-car apps. This asks that EV makers keep radio’s digital services as equally prominent in the dashboard as the other most popular or suggested option, while radio companies create an easy-to-use, attractive, and robust app experience.

The third leg, and perhaps the most interesting choice, is adding voice commands in the car for radio.

For this, automakers would make the OTA tuner the default source for radio requests, and broadcaster apps the default source for on-demand requests. In return, broadcasters would provide appropriate metadata to make services and content searchable and ensure content starts from the right source.

Granryd said, “I have been given the exciting and important task of part-time running this project on behalf of the EBU. The mission is to unite the radio industry and with one voice hold talks with the car industry in order to create the best conditions for us in a future connected car.”

“It is therefore imperative that our content is easy to find in a connected car. We must jointly ensure that radio channels, music, podcasts, and news continue to have the obvious and prominent place in the car that it deserves.”

As US Congress moves to mandate AM radio in all future combustion and EV models, could The Playbook help build the goodwill and synergy that broadcasters and automakers need?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here