AM radio doesn't have it easy these days. It's not just that FM, satellite radio, and online listening services keep eating away at its audience: AM also faces interference from all kinds of consumer electronics. But the New York Times reports that the radio format has found a champion in the FCC's only Republican, Ajit Pai. He says AM must be kept alive in part because it plays a role in keeping us alive: Its long wavelength has a longer reach and is key in emergencies.
"When the power goes out, when you can’t get a good cell signal, when the Internet goes down, people turn to battery-powered AM radios to get the information they need," Pai says. In Alaska, for instance, AM radio offers updates on floods and reports missing hunters. What's more, he says, the aging service is "the audible core of our national culture." Five of the country's top 10 radio stations remain AM, but as of 2011, just 15% of radio listeners were tuning on the AM dial. Click for Pai's suggestions to improve the AM experience. (Read more FCC stories.)