WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, National Association of Broadcasters member J Chapman, president of Woof Boom Radio, testified at a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology titled "Listen Here: Why Americans Value AM Radio." The following statement can be attributed to NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt:
"NAB appreciates the leadership of House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, as well as Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta and Ranking Member Doris Matsui, in holding this important hearing highlighting the enduring value of broadcast AM radio. As my colleague J Chapman testified, AM radio continues to play an integral role in keeping our communities informed, engaged and safe, especially in times of emergency when other forms of communication fail.
"America’s broadcasters thank the members of the Subcommittee, as well as the numerous lawmakers that have voiced their strong support for the preservation of AM radio in cars. We look forward to working with Congress to preserve public safety and urge passage of the AM Radio For Every Vehicle Act that safeguards AM radio’s place in the car."
Below are Wolf Boom Radio President J Chapman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good morning, Chairs Latta and McMorris Rodgers, Ranking Members Matsui and Pallone, and members of the subcommittee. My name is J Chapman, and I am president and owner of Woof Boom Radio. We operate 12 radio stations serving listeners in Indiana and Ohio. Three of the stations are AM radio stations: WCIT in Lima; WHBU in Anderson; and WMUN in Muncie.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters and more than 6,400 local TV and radio stations that provide FREE and valuable service to all our hometowns.
I would like to share a brief personal story about AM radio’s role in times of emergency.
In June of 2009, I was the general manager of a group of radio stations in Rockford, Illinois. I was returning home that evening with our 11-year-old daughter. She noticed the sky glowing to the south. A few minutes earlier, a freight train derailed at a highway crossing. Nineteen cars derailed. Cars loaded with 2-million gallons of ethanol leaked, some exploded, and the contents caught fire. That fire spread to several nearby cars at a crossing. Sadly, many people were injured, and a life was lost that night.
Within minutes of the derailment, our stations were broadcasting and coordinating with local officials to direct residents to safety. Our AM station, WNTA, aired critical information throughout that night.
As bad as it was, this tragedy would have been much worse were it not for the efforts by local emergency management. But I can also say that radio – specifically AM radio – played a very important role. Our on-air staff of WNTA-AM were the ones directing people to safety. A text message on a cell phone doesn’t do what AM radio did that night.
AM radio stations play a crucial role in the nation’s Emergency Alert System. The EAS is our national public warning system. It’s available to the President and is commonly used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information.
The vast majority of Primary Entry Points (or PEP stations), which comprise the EAS, are AM radio stations and this is because: an AM station can cover a vast area, some as much as 700 miles, and AM also travels better through solid objects like mountains.
FEMA has invested millions to make these stations withstand natural disasters and acts of terrorism. But the stations themselves are responsible for operating in times of crisis.
A car is often the only source of power and news for many in an emergency. AM radio’s presence in cars helps ensure that listeners won’t lose access to emergency alerts during times of crisis and cannot be replicated by other media.
Unlike the internet and cell phone service, radio stations continue to function during power outages, natural disasters, and other emergencies.
Despite AM radio’s critical role, some automakers have removed AM radio from electric vehicles and signaled that they may remove AM radio from new models of internal combustion engine vehicles.
Broadcasters thank Chairman Latta, Rep. Greg Pence, and multiple members of this subcommittee, for sending a letter to automakers signaling the importance of AM radio.
Local broadcasters were pleased that as a result of this letter, Ford announced a decision to reverse its course. The NAB applauds this decision and calls on other automakers to follow suit.
A bipartisan bill has also been introduced. Like other safety requirements, the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act would preserve AM radio in cars by requiring the Transportation Secretary to issue a rule under which motor vehicles would be required to include a device that can receive AM radio. Broadcasters support this legislation.
In conclusion, it’s not a zero-sum game. We can protect Americans with the one dependable system (EAS) to communicate in times of crisis. Automakers have protected car occupants and the electronics in cars for a long time. It can be done. This moment is too important not to act.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear today. I look forward to your questions.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.