NAB Asks BMW to Rethink Leaving out AM for i3

NAB has asked BMW to reconsider leaving out the AM portion of the radio in the dashboard of the i3 electric vehicle.

Reports from Europe indicate BMW has removed both the AM portion of the radio and CD player from the dash of this model.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith says in a letter to BMW of North America President/CEO Ludwig Willisch that the broadcast lobby was “saddened” to hear of the change and hopes the automaker would reconsider the AM decision.

“NAB appreciates BMW’s concern that the i3’s electric motor could cause interference with AM signals and leave customers frustrated. However BMW’s electric car competitors have addressed this AM signal interference sufficiently enough that their vehicles still come equipped with AM radio,” writes Smith, who notes the NAB and its broadcast members are working with the FCC to address interference challenges on the AM band.

The broadcast lobby executive offers NAB’s help, to address “any concerns you may have” regarding AM radio, noting that the country’s “thousands of local broadcasters welcome a partnership with BMW that includes AM radio on the dashboard of all your vehicles.”

AM radio is not a thing of the past, notes Smith who references AM’s place in current events. “Even today, legendary AM stations like WFAN in New York and WLW in Cincinnati serve as the flagship stations for professional teams like the Yankees and Reds in Major League Baseball and the Giants and Bengals in the National Football League. Recently, the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings signed a deal to be on AM station KABC for the next five years.”

In smaller town, Smith says, AM radio stations are often the only media source providing emergency information when a horrific storm is approaching. “In cities large and small, AM radio is the first line of defense in a crisis, and a galvanizing force in helping to rebuild communities recovering from disaster,” according to Smith.


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One of the chief complaints about AM is the sound quality. The problem originates in low-cost receiver designs, as the FCC audio bandwidth requirements for commercial AM broadcast are identical to those for FM broadcast: 50 Hz to 15 KHz, +0, -1 dB. The use of an envelope detector, and the associated filtering required, are the primary reason for the "muddy" sound quality and high susceptibility to interference. Dave Hershberger published an article in the April, 1982 issue of Popular Electronics magazine on how to build a synchronous demodulator for high-quality AM reception. In that day, the circuit required multiple op-amp chips along with discrete components. Today, it may be possible to implement the detector on a single chip rather inexpensively; this could give AM new life.
By Kenneth W. Reighard on 8/26/2014
It is my opinion that the FCC, in concert with the FTC, should mandate that as a matter of national security, all automobiles sold in the USA must have an analog AM tuner - it is the last gasp of service in extreme emergencies. IF they don't have an AM radio, then they should be mandated to provide a NOAA Weather Radio with standby that would interrupt when the EAS tones sound. I think of WWL running their AM station on 25KW day and night as an outreach to the not only New Orleans, but the entire SE USA. The FCC has failed us by not giving 12 MHz of bandwidth for a new AM band when they want 150MHz for the $ellphone indu$try. The chairman'$ days as a lobbyi$t nullifies his intere$t in over the air broadcasters.
By John Pavlica on 8/15/2014
It's a wake-up call folks! I've been saying for years, commercial AM broadcasting is dying and soon it will be dead. We're missing out on a great opportunity to fix radio by expanding the FM band. We are doing HD now in the existing allocations, we can expand the band by taking the old channel 6 allocation and apply newer technology; one that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to buy and further fee'd to death afterward! We haven't found technology that can make the AM band compete, so it's time to cut bait and move on. If the BMW announcement wasn't enough, how about the Radio Disney announcement on 8/13/2014??! (knock, knock, knock...Hello, McFly?)
By Scott Clifton on 8/14/2014
I wonder if these cars have to meet Part 15 requirements for unintentional radiator?
By Chris Durso on 8/14/2014
This is a most troubling story. The mediumwave (AM) band in North America is neither undesirable nor dead. In the US (and in Canada, I believe), there are countless low-powered AM stations (sometimes known as highway advisory or travellers' information stations) serving highways, communities, airports and important public attractions including many National Parks. North Plainfield, New Jersey operates one of these, and during Superstorm Sandy, it was uniquely responsible for immediate, lifesaving local information unavailable elsewhere on FM, AM or the web. We carried bulletins on flooded-out intersections, where motor fuel was being pumped, what supermarkets could be accessed, proper generator operation and school closings. There's lots more to AM than meets the ear!
By Rich Phoenix on 8/14/2014

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