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Salem Warns of Dire Consequences If Congress Messes With Daylight Saving Time

Atsinger and Santrella say it could be a “death blow” to many AM operators

Cartoon drawing of an alaarm clock with the text 2023 Spring Forward March 12"

If Daylight Saving Time became permanent, it would deal a “massive blow” to AM radio operators across the United States, according to Salem Media Group.

Their warning comes as proponents of the change resume their push in Congress.

Salem owns approximately 70 AM stations and has about 750 AM radio affiliates. Co-founder and Chairman Ed Atsinger III and CEO Dave Santrella wrote this week to House and Senate committee leaders in both parties expressing opposition to legislation that would make DST permanent.

Daylight Saving Time will resume this weekend in most of the United States. Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, is a proponent of making DST permanent; the Senate passed his “Sunshine Protection Act” last year but the legislation’s prospects have been uncertain.

H.R. 1279, introduced in the House last week, is sponsored by Rubio’s fellow Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan.

Atsinger and Santrella reminded the legislators of the news, traffic/weather, sports and talk content on AM. “In some municipalities, AM radio stations also cater to a specific immigrant community, reaching their listeners with a specific foreign language or other programming elements like music or sports. AM is still a very effective and highly reliable platform for audio broadcast.”

They explained that most AM stations must follow a sunrise and sunset schedule that can reduce their transmitter power and coverage. The Salem leaders said the bill would reduce coverage in the crucial morning drivetime hours.

“This issue would be even more detrimental during the darkest days of November, December, January and February, when AM stations would not be at full power until at least 8 a.m.,” they wrote.

“From a programming and revenue standpoint, the morning drive daypart is still one of the most significant dayparts on an entire radio station. It’s the daypart that generates the most amount of revenue and is a cornerstone for the rest of the programming day.”

They said AM radio is facing a multitude of challenges and that radio, in general, faces “constant headwinds from an ever-changing media landscape.”

“This challenge might likely be the death blow to many AM radio stations,” they concluded, saying they are “confident you don’t want to see that happen.”

Atsinger and Santrella wrote to House Energy and Commerce Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ranking Member Frank Pallone and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Chairwoman Maria Cantwell and Ranking Member Ted Cruz.

[Related: “Extending Daylight Saving Time Could Hurt AM Radio”]