Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: November 22, 2013

An old Becker Car Radio. Broadcast radio has been in cars for over eight decades and will likely last a few more.

An old Becker Car Radio. Broadcast radio has been in cars for over eight decades and will likely last a few more.

The vast majority of Americans still listen to AM/FM radio in their cars, but that doesn’t mean the many new dashboard options aren’t starting to take hold.  Reports from the recent DASH: The Connected Car Conference in Detroit  found that car makers are constantly looking at new features to add to the dashboard entertainment options we have while driving.

We are connected all day with smart phones, so we expect to remain connected as we enter our car. Accessing the Internet and services like Pandora, online radio stations and podcasts through your phone or even directly through your car’s 4G connection is becoming more common. 

Will these services kill broadcast radio?  Doubtful.  The stats are not yet impressive.  Entercom President David Field gave a keynote at the Conference and made the point that broadcast radio still has 92.4% of audio listening (similar to a decade ago), Pandora has 4.2% and Internet the remainder. Even with the influx of all the internet choices, listeners want access to their local radio stations for emergency information, news, weather, traffic, and local music stations.

What I found interesting is a story about the device that may go away in your new car.  Car maker’s complained that CD players are expensive and prone to failure and likely on the way out.  


    The premise is faulty. NPR does not depend on federal funds. Local stations depend on federal funds and that’s where federal funds go. Each local station is governed by its own local community and provides programming for its local community per its local board policies and its community advisory boards, based on local needs and interests. Each station chooses to buy, or not buy, programs from individual production companies and producers, for example, American Public Media, Public Media International, NPR, Association of Independents in Public radio, etc. Each station also produces its own programs. Some local stations, mostly in rural and smaller communities, depend on federal funds for up to 50% of their budget. Stations in the larger markets may get less than 5% federal funds. So to cut federal dollars is to prevent the smallest communities the opportunity to have locally controlled public media. Based on the facts, the discussion is very different from the one being presented.