By Hannah Osborne
In a letter to the Georgia Association of Broadcasters’ Bob Houghton, Director of Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency James C. Stallings expresses the importance of protecting the presence of AM radio in vehicles.
“GEMA is a critical partner for the GAB in our effort to inform and protect the citizens of Georgia. AM radio is a vital component in their communication efforts. GEMA hosts our semi-annual severe weather preparedness meeting, originates our monthly Emergency Alert System tests and partners with our broadcasters as first informers during emergencies like natural disasters or civil unrest. The support from Director Stallings’ is much appreciated as we continue our efforts to protect AM radio in every vehicle and keep Georgians safe,” says Houghton.
GEMA/HS highlights the value of AM radio lying not in the nostalgia of the medium or the historical significance of technological development, but in the incomparable ability to operate in the event of disasters. HR 3413, the AM for Every Vehicle Act, protects the rights of Americans to free, easily accessible and lifesaving information. AM radio, which maintains a presence in the lives of 82 million Americans who, according to Nielsen, use the service each month, is the backbone of the emergency alert system on both national and state levels.
In events where electricity or the Internet oftentimes fail, AM radio has proven itself as a reliable medium to deliver lifesaving news and alerts. Through GEMA’s Emergency Alert System Plan, all Georgians are ensured coverage by one of 13 defined EAS regions with designated relay broadcasting stations.
“In times of crisis, when every second counts, the ability to reach a large population quickly and efficiently can save lives and minimize the impact of the disaster,” says Stallings, highlighting the broad range of a single AM broadcast tower.
The communities that will likely be most affected by the removal of AM radio in vehicles are rural and lower-income communities that rely on AM radio for news, emergency alerts, community events and more. Those who are unable to access the latest technological advances will face disadvantages; these communities’ equal access to information would be stunted by the loss of AM radio in their vehicles.
As AM radio has continuously proven itself as a lifesaving device, GEMA/HS urges Congress to take action in protecting the rights of Americans by maintaining access to AM radio in their vehicles.