Jacobs urges AM stations to adapt to applications and FM opportunities

Jacobs urges AM stations to adapt to applications and FM opportunities

The consultant is writing urgently as some car manufacturers have “abandoned”.

Fred Jacobs.

What can AM broadcasters in the US do if they receive news that major car manufacturers are willing to drop over-the-air AM reception from their cars?

Consultant Fred Jacobs has some ideas today. He wrote in part in response to news that Ford is apparently phasing out AM from most of its new vehicles, not just electric cars.

(As we reported, Volvo appears to have made this decision as well. Read what each automaker told Sen. Markey.)

Jacobs knows these are depressing developments. In a blog post, he says NAB and Sen. Markey are “on board” and understand “the gravity of the moment.”

But he advises AM broadcasters to develop “a robust, simple app for your station, or make sure your current one is updated to provide a seamless streaming experience on smartphones and tablets, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.”

He reminds AM stations that their listeners tend to be older and perhaps less tech-savvy than others. “If your AM station is on an aggregated app with hundreds and hundreds of other options, consider a dedicated app so consumers can easily find the station and its streamed audio without jumping through too many hoops.”

He also advises AM owners to find an FM signal to move to. “Even the best AM stations will be challenged by abandonment in the coming years. It makes sense to move to a safe place on the FM band.”

Jacobs said that years of bad AM programming choices are “coming home.”

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Another important statistic: Jacobs says his company’s annual Techsurvey finds that the lowest percentage of new-car buyers ever say AM radio is essential to their dashboard — and that’s among a survey population that’s made up mostly of radio listeners.

He adds: “FM radio is in a much stronger position, but it has also fallen off the top… [F]or the past two years, Bluetooth has now moved ahead of FM. … So when it comes to in-dash equipment, we don’t see ringing support for AM radio, while FM has weakened over time.”

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