Radio Waves: AM in Ford Commercial Vehicles, History of Hornby Site, A23 DRM Broadcast Schedule, and AM Radio Importance and Action

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul, and Dennis Dura for the following tips:

Ford to drop AM radio in new models, except commercial vehicles (Detroit Free Press)

Ford Motor Co. plans to stop putting AM radio in new gas-powered and electric vehicles beginning in 2024, including the all-electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning pickup, the Detroit Free Press has confirmed.

“We are transitioning from AM radio for most new and updated 2024 models,” Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood told the Free Press. “A majority of U.S. AM stations, as well as a number of countries and automakers globally, are modernizing radio by offering internet streaming through mobile apps, FM, digital and satellite radio options. Ford will continue to offer these alternatives for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music, news and podcasts as we remove amplitude modulation — the definition of AM in this case — from most new and updated models we bring to market.”

Commercial vehicles will continue to offer AM radio because of longstanding contract language, Sherwood said.

Drivers often turn to AM radio for live traffic updates and weather reports, as well as emergency communication. [Continue reading…]

The history of the Hornby AM radio site, our oldest operational transmission site (CBC/Radio-Canada)

Did you know that one of our AM radio stations can also be used as a bunker? What’s more, the opening of this station was of such importance that King George VI addressed the nation during its inaugural broadcast in December 1937? Considered an engineering feat in its time, the Hornby AM radio site is the oldest transmission site owned and operated by CBC/Radio-Canada. Here are some interesting facts.

Listen to the King’s First Empire Christmas Greeting:

A little bit of history

Located in Hornby, Ontario, this AM radio site was built in 1937 for the CBL radio service (the ancestor of CBC Radio One) one year after the creation of CBC/Radio-Canada. The station contained a 50-kilowatt transmitter and a 640-foot tower, making it the tallest structure in Canada from 1937 to 1954. That’s more than twice the height of Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower, London).

Already a technological feat in itself, the site then added a second radio service (CJBC) in 1944 and became one of the rare AM sites to broadcast two services from one tower. The joint CBL-CJBC signal was so powerful that people could hear the program simply by putting an ear on nearby wire fences.

All about the bunker

Between 1946 and 1948, Canadians were seeing the beginning of the Cold War and, with it, the threat of nuclear attacks. As a result, the site underwent a “wartime expansion” during which the existing underground bunker, a reinforced underground shelter built for protection, was installed.

With 12 feet of concrete overhead, the bunker was designed to protect key government officials from an atomic bomb and allow CBC to continue broadcasting even in the event of a nuclear war. On the left side of the building, rooms in the basement were designed to provide shelter and allow space for broadcast equipment. A large diesel generator was also added to act as a power backup system, ensuring a steady signal. Lastly, a “sand wall” was built so the people inside could climb out after the attack. To this day, you can still find in the bunker books and magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, reminding us of the site’s past. [Continue reading…]

A23 DRM Broadcast Schedule (DRM Consortium)

Click here to view the recently-published A23 schedule of DRM broadcasts.

What Are Automakers Thinking About AM/FM Radio? (Based On A True Story) (Jacobs Media Strategies)

I can’t tell you how long my love affair with cars has lasted. When you’re born and raised in Detroit, cars are in your DNA. My best memories include GTOs, Bel Airs, Road Runners, and a soundtrack of the Beach Boys, Motown, and Mitch Ryder on AM radio that perfectly accompanied all that Motor City metal.

Dad took us to Cobo Hall every frigid January for the Detroit Auto Show, the annual celebration of the city’s #1 export – the car. It’s no wonder then that when Paul and I first went to CES back in 2009, we gravitated to the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center where “this year’s models” were on display. We got to meet many automotive experts who welcomed a couple of Detroit radio natives with open arms.

But the storm clouds were already gathering on the horizon.  Despite being partners in the dashboard for most of a century, the relationship between radio and automotive wasn’t contentious or even frosty.  It just didn’t exist.  Even though consumers instinctively connected radio to cars, neither industry had a whole lot to do with the other.  The auto companies dutifully installed AM/FM receivers in their dashboards, and the radio industry gladly monetized the hell out of them. [Continue reading…] Check out this NAB website promoting AM broadcast radio

This site contains information, data, and testimonies about the importance of AM radio.

It also includes this form which makes it easy to contact your legislators why you depend on radio.

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28 thoughts on “Radio Waves: AM in Ford Commercial Vehicles, History of Hornby Site, A23 DRM Broadcast Schedule, and AM Radio Importance and Action

    1. mangosman

      A DSP receiver uses a master fixed oscillator and uses a programmable divider to generate the local oscillator frequency. In the FM band why does the resolution need to be in 10 kHz steps to give a smooth feel when all of the stations are in steps of 200 kHz. eg 88.1, 88.3 … MHz. So as you turn the tuning knob the receiver jumps from channel to channel, no fine tuning required?

      The Sony recommendation is only 1 of 2 models they manufacture along with 2 Clock radios and 7 other car/marine models. The link below is their promoted model. has AM and FM, satellite reception and Bluetooth to a phone. No mention of HDRadio. as a comparison they have 6 portable AM/FM receivers and 5 DAB+/FM only receivers because Digital Audio Broadcasters simulcast most AM and FM programs in much better sounding DAB+. The top of the range in the USA is not sold in the UK, the next most expensive has DAB+/FM and AM.

  1. John Drake

    This setup gives me hundreds of AM, FM and streaming radio stations from around the world:
    For streaming radio in my car I use the TuneIn app with an old Android smartphone and a “tablet” SIM card ($10 per month for 4GB of data).
    A Belkin 3.5mm cable connects the smartphone to the “AUX” port of the car stereo.
    The smartphone is mounted in my cup holder using a $20 Cellet mount (SKU # B006BIQBMQ at Amazon).

    1. mangosman

      There was another app which like tunein app is basically a database of station names and their web addresses. This app was installed in ‘radios’. The company’s computers became old and they didn’t make enough money to upgrade them so they went broke. This left all these radios unable to do anything but being a ‘boat anchor’. Will another company want to take over from Tunein in the future?

      Have you measured the bit rate of the incoming data, divided it by 8 to produce the number of byte/s. Then monitor how long over a month you listen in your vehicle. Multiply the number to find the total number of seconds. now multiply that value by the byte/s and again by 1,000,000,000 to give the total number of GB. You can then multiply that value by the price/GByte to give the actual price, compared to free.

      Lastly if you are driving during an emergency the cell base station providing emergency alerts will go silent if the electricity blacks out for more than a few hours. There is over 320,000 cell phone base stations in the USA it is not possible to provide long term backup power and to keep it topped up with fuel during an emergency. Where as high powered AM stations generally have diesel powered backup which is often subsidised by governments and because the coverage area is huge compared to a cell phone base station can be well away from the emergency. The USA has a little over 4,000 AM broadcasters.

      1. John Drake


        0ne hour per day of streaming audio at 128 Kbps is roughly 1.8 GB per month.
        In my city a coffee and roll is $6, so $10 per month is a small price to pay for access to thousands of Internet radio stations.

        If TuneIn goes bankrupt there is Simple Radio and a dozen other Internet radio aggregators. I am also free to download the streaming app from each radio station individually.

        Also, there’s no guarantee AM radio will stay up in an emergency. In my city a major power failure downed the local AM stations and I had to find out what happened from satellite radio. In Ukraine the broadcast towers went down first, but smartphone service stayed up and Ukrainians have been using the Telegraph app to get their news—not radio.

        1. mangosman

          I am glad you calculated the cost of listening, however from country to country, company to company the cost per GB varies widely.
          In the major blackout you describe, what happened to the mobile and fixed internet?

          The problem using the internet in areas of conflict is that the dictators can shut it down or sensor it at will. It is very easy to disconnect foreign traffic. For example China bans Facebook etc from outside China all the time. However high frequency radio can travel for thousands of kilometres. This is where for example the BBC is transmitting into Russia which has a highly government controlled media. It is easy to conceal radio receivers and it is difficult to jam broadcasts.

          Taking a national not a local view, the AM stations I was referring to in the USA are those of a high power 50 kW to cover large areas. There are many low powered AM which are tiny power at night. They are not backed up. As for the internet, how do you battery back up for days any number of the over 320,000 base stations let alone the distribution infrastructure. You never know where emergencies will occur where groups of base stations in the same area will go down together.

          In Australia the ABC which is government owned not only has diesel powered backup, they also have backup transmitters of the same power with separate antennas because we have many natural disasters over a huge area. The disasters include huge bush fires, cyclones (hurricanes), floods/

  2. Mario

    Dumb idea with many possible motives other than RFI issues. It may be a mechanism of controlling/shaping/editing what information is being disseminated to the American public. AM radio is a healthy mix consisting of music, news, talk, sports, etc. It’s a potpourri of different ideas and formats conjured up by many independent (and yes, dependent too) minds from many walks of life and could be considered as a loose cannon to those who harbor nefarious, controlling agendas.

  3. Joe Shmoe

    Won’t buy a car without AM. As far as I’m concerned, they should have all bands with every kind of modulation.
    The Internet is great too, if people want to pay for that feature…

  4. Ian Baines

    I enjoyed the article about the CBC Hornby transmitter site. A story comes to mind about this 50 kW Omni directional transmitter that was located in farm fields about 30 miles west of Toronto. It was meant to cover all of central Canada and be an emergency communications source in case of war or natural disaster.

    In addition to the 640 foot vertical antenna there were two masts that were not used as part of the normal transmitter operation. They were designed to hold a Marconi or T type wire antenna that could be erected in an emergency combined with the 10 kW emergency transmitter it would allow the CBC to go back on the air. Should they lose their large main mast. The T antenna was coiled up in the transmitter building ready to be hauled up with block and tackle. It never was needed.

    Although there are no houses, coming closer and closer to the transmitter site, back in the 70s, it was surrounded only by farmers a fields. I was a. , their large main mast.

    Although there are now houses coming closer and closer to the transmitter site, back in the 70s it was surrounded only by farmers fields. I was a young engineer for CBC radio at the time, and I remember a funny story concerning our coverage of downtown Toronto.

    Although Toronto suffered considerable attenuation of all AM signals because of the many steel buildings that make up downtown, CBC, a.m. radio was able to get through because of its high power. This was very important as it was an important part of the commute to and from work and news, and, regular programming during the day. Many people in many offices listened to CBC 740 in downtown Toronto. There was no FM equivalent at the time. The CBC did have an FM transmitter, but it was used for classical music programming mostly. Plus it didn’t go that far as it was located on top of the network building in amongst the big steel towers. AM could be heard well everywhere, despite local noise.

    One day CBC Engineering learned that suddenly the signal had dropped precipitously. It was no longer audible in the city. This was a big disaster. Everywhere else in the province you could hear a.m. 740 just fine, but not downtown Toronto. Radio engineers were dispatched, and we monitored the signal strength in all directions. Sure enough there was a big notch in the signal right over top of Toronto ,

    Moving closer and closer to the antenna we found that the drop off could be measured within a mile of the mast. This was clearly impossible as there was no obvious shielding of the single big mast, which radiated equally in all directions. Standing on a farmer’s field showed nothing but cows, barns and the odd house. And sure enough, a big notch in signal strength right towards downtown. No other direction.

    The answer finally came, thanks to a door-to-door campaign of asking residents if they had noticed any changes . One fellow, a chicken farmer, had a chicken barn full of thousands of egg layers. He was quite proud of the string of 60 W lightbulbs that kept the chickens, warm, and bright. Not only were the lights bright, but they were free!

    He explained how he had hooked up a string of lights in series And by connecting this wire loop of just the right dimension the lights magically lit up as bright as day. Free lighting!!

    Of course what he was doing was building a full wave length loop for 740 kHz and sucking the power right out of the signal from a transmitter but one mile away.. He just happened to be located in the direction of downtown Toronto. Had it been in any other direction we may never have found out.

    I’m not sure how the CBC convinced him to disconnect his lights. But he did, thoughtfully, and the signal strength in Toronto return to normal. Radio audience versus chickens. The audience won. CBC AM radio returned to downtown Toronto.

    Ian VE3DJI

  5. Mark

    RFI is an issue in some electrics, maybe hybrids too.

    I had an Nissan Leaf 2015 and the AM radio worked fine, then I got a BMW i3 and the Am radio was disabled by software, I hacked it and also got the 49m Shortwave band.

    Reception was great until the motor started turning then everything was wiped out, the I£ has a CF Chassis and plastic body panels so there was absolutely no grounding.

    Now I have the VW id3 and AM is not included/disabled.

    I’m not sure if any after market radio could be installed, as the radios now are integrated as part of the infotainment unit that controls half the cars functions.

    More and more physical buttons are disappearing for touch screens and I don’t like it, give me physical buttons any day but more and more car manufacturers are removing physical controls for digital.

    People are addicted to screens enough as it is and even hams can’t get enough with their fancy waterfalls….

    I don’t know anyone who listens to AM radio in any way shape or form who’s not into either Ham radio or SWL or both. I find it a challenge to find someone who heard of ham radio or Shortwave.

    Most cell phone companies today provided unlimited data so People can stream all day long and more and more People are buying smart speakers, not radios.

  6. mangosman

    Federal Communications Commission
    Ԥ 15.103 Exempted devices.

    Except as provided in paragraph (j) of this section, the following devices are subject only to the general conditions of operation in §§ 15.5 and 15.29, and are exempt from the specific technical standards and other requirements contained in this part. The operator of the exempted device shall be required to stop operating the device upon a finding by the Commission or its representative that the device is causing harmful interference. Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected. Although not mandatory, it is strongly recommended that the manufacturer of an exempted device endeavor to have the device meet the specific technical standards in this part.

    (a) A digital device utilized exclusively in any transportation vehicle including motor vehicles and aircraft.’
    So vehicles can radiate as much interference as the manufacturer wishes in the USA.

    1. mangosman

      I suspect this exemption has been around in the background for quite a while. Whilst diesel engines do not have spark plugs, suppression of ignition systems in gasoline engines is easy and well established. Aircraft using Avgas is similar to gasoline engines. Jet engines need spark plugs to get started until the engine gets to operating speed.
      Electric trains and trams have a pantograph connecting to the supply wire which arcs at joins and when there is a gap between the wire and the pantograph.
      This leaves diesel electric locomotives. The diesel engine is fine, it drives an alternator which then drives AC electric motors.
      These days nearly all large electric motors are driven by an inverter which converts DC to AC. This is because the speed is easily changed by changing the inverter frequency and AC motors are more efficient. The electricity source is typically AC which is rectified to produce DC. This is probably the original reason for the FCC exemption.
      This is what happens in EVs and hybrids. When EV numbers increase electromagnetic interference will increase which may eventually force the FCC’s hand to tighten the regulations.

  7. mangosman

    The auto manufacturer executives obviously have never driven in or after a hurricane, tornado, large forest fire or a blizzard. The cell phone towers stop working generally because of electricity supply blackouts or physical damage. The antennas have to be as high as possible to get the most even, largest area coverage so are susceptible to wind and fire damage. So if only mobile broadband is available there will be none, hence no warnings.
    Also each mobile broadband/cell phone has to be fed an individual 2 way signal from the base station. In times of emergency the users stay on longer looking at maps text and listening to possible warnings. If many are doing this, it can prevent victims calling for help.
    This is why the Government has paid for backup generators for high power AM stations. It is not feasible to put backup generators in over 320,000 base stations in the USA. In addition they will need to be refuelled during an emergency, a dangerous act. Solar power is not available through heavy cloud and at night and very strong winds cause wind generator to apply brakes to prevent damage.
    Radio covers large areas evenly with base stations between 900 m radius for high speed 5G to the low 10s of km for 4G of terrain dependent coverage.

    1. Tom Servo

      I’ve been through several smaller storms and one major hurricane over the last decade, and the first things to go off the air in my area were the local AM stations and their translators. Most of the big 100 kW FM stations would eventually go off, along with some of the TV stations. During the last hurricane, we even lost our water supply for nearly a week!

      What kept working? The cell phone. I never lost a signal or data service at home or — once the debris was cleared — when traveling to the emergency supply sites to get bottled water. Although we were without power for a week, apparently the cable and DSL internet also kept working through the storm.

      Even with the stations that managed to stay on through the storm, they didn’t have much in the way of useful information for my area, and most went back to regular music programming ASAP after the storm passed. If not for the phone, we’d have truly been “in the dark” about what was going on locally.

      Also, you’re incorrect about people using their phones causing others to not be able to call for help. Data congestion doesn’t have anything to do with the data circuits being overwhelmed. Call completion is a higher priority than someone streaming cat videos on YouTube, and someone trying to call 911 will take priority over everything else on the cell other than first responders.

      1. mangosman

        Where I am we have huge fires. A common cause of blackouts to cell phone towers is the power poles get burnt down. The fire fighters will not allow vehicles into fire zones until it is safe particularly small tankers. From the aftermath the investigations after our huge fires in 2019 – 2020 summer fires 1400 cell phone towers went off the air mostly due to blackouts.
        Most telephone exchanges have backup power which in the larger ones big diesel generators which will power DSL lines where they still exist, and the routing equipment for fibre to the premises. The premises has to have power to receive/transmit data, some have battery backup for a few hours. Where fibre to the node ie a cabinet in the street which converts light to phone lines, they may be battery backed up but they must be one every kilometer or so, is another source of failure.
        There is not a lot of point in keeping TV transmitters running because there are very few battery operated receivers.
        Where I am the government owned AM transmitters are nearly all diesel powered in blackouts. They transmit emergency warnings when required every 30 minutes. We have forest areas which only have AM coverage, leaving AM less vehicles likely to drive towards fires.
        Every ‘connection’ between a mobile internet device and phone share the available transmitter/ receiver on a cell phone base station. All signals are data packets with an identifying block of data to identify the function. The base station also has to identify which devices are in it’s cell so they are called regularly to find out which have left and which have appeared. This is polling. The control of the base stations is centrally controlled for a particular provider. I never posted about some one watching moving video which is data hungry. Where I am we have emergency websites which can be accessed through the internet where most potential victims will leave on. Every time the data changes it has to be sent to each logged in phone individually. This alone can overload base stations as well. To start a call the phone has to detect a non busy channel before the base station knows it wants access, regardless of priorities remembering that both data and phone activity will far exceed the usual. is for you.

  8. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    …Then perhaps there will be a significant secondary market for radio retrofits. And don’t just stop with AM. Put SW in there too!

      1. Robert Richmond

        There are car stereo models with shortwave reception. The Pioneer DEH-S4250BT (certain non-US versions!, check the specs), comes to mind. There are JVC and Sony models, both probably out of production, offering SW as well.

        The primary issue with these units tends to have select bands and/or other coverage gaps, particularly because they are AM only so they target broadcast SW bands.

  9. mangosman

    It is obvious that auto maker executives have never driven in or after a tornado or hurricane. The first thing to go is the cell phone base stations usually from blackouts of more than 2 – 3 hours. Much longer if the base station tower is blown down. This also occurs in forest fires and blizzards. That is why high power AM stations have been subsidised with diesel generators to keep them on air. There is over 330,000 cell phone base stations in the USA, do they expect backup generators at all of them and who will fill them with fuel. Solar panels don’t work well under very dense clouds and wind generators have to apply brakes to prevent damage in very strong winds!

    Obviously the telcos are not telling them that if all listeners were to go onto the internet that they could not cope. 1. the bandwidth required for over 300 million simultaneous two way data paths through base stations requires a massive bandwidth and a transmitter/receiver for each one. Most listening is in moving vehicles so the base station capacity must contain spare for the vehicles moving into their area faster than they leave.

    Lastly if potential victims are continuously watching weather maps and listening to warnings, one tranceiver is used for each phone, this will overload the base stations in the emergency zone preventing calls for help!

  10. Paul Evans

    They’re killing off AM radio receivers in cars/vans/trucks for cost-cutting reasons but not for the reason of the cost of the radio hardware! No, all BEVs, Hybrids and ‘normal’ ICE vehicles are stuffed full of computers and the RFI they produce in the lower bands [e.g. AM]. The very high power switching required in BEVs produces mighty switching transients. To eliminate these to a level compatible with your typical AM signal level is deemed by these vehicle manufacturers as very expensive compared to the amount of usage. So, they’re using the decline in AM transmitters as an excuse to just omit AM and not have to bother with the huge emissions made by these vehicles. Yes, they ARE really terrible.
    The bigger issue for most people will be the RFI made by home chargers, public chargers and especially ‘wireless’ loop chargers, where frequencies between 60kHz and 8 MHz are already being tested, if not used. It poses as much a threat to amateur radio and SWLs as the microwave 5G band grab, going on NOW, does. Given that a large percentage of European homes can’t fit a charger at the property, but most likely to a nearby lamp post/power pole, widespread charger RFI will be out in all the streets. And you thought RFI from DSL was/is bad?

    1. mangosman

      When all vehicles including trucks are electric can you imagine the electronic noise when the lights go green! and all the vehicles around you are also accelerating. Only then will the FCC act on this problem?

  11. Mark

    I can’t understand car manufacturer’s hatred towards AM radio, after all, a single chip now can do LW, MW and SW and possibly DAB+ too so I wonder why disable by firmware AM + SW radio, why should Auto manufacturers care how people listen to radio unless they are working with Governments on more sinister matters ? or worse the U.N ?

    The U.K courts banned Tune in radio from offering anything other than U.K stations to U.K listeners, how long before this happens across the Glove on all platforms ?

    At least you can turn on an AM and in particular SW radio and pick up stations from across the planet.

    What next, ban amateur radio operators from transmitting on the Ham bands ? with all the QRM over the last couple of years perhaps the writing is on the wall for Hams too ?

    Car radios today in many cars just can not be replaced and this is a huge issue, they are part of the infotainment system and this controls half the functions in the car.

    Soon everything in your car will be subscription based, heated seats, sat nav, auto lane keeping etc etc.

    1. mangosman

      Semiconductor manufacturers make 2 chip receivers. Chip1 is the tuner IC which converts the signals down to 12 kHz and the second chip decodes the modulation which can include all digital modes, AM/SW/FM stereo & RDS. The complication for the car industry is the antenna on the outside of the car. Also with the EVs the receiver also needs a tuned circuit to remove all but the wanted signal at the receivers’ antenna input.


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