AM Radio for Emergencies: A Must-Have Resource in Critical Times

Could $20 Save Your Life?

In times of crisis, communication becomes paramount. Recent events, such as the Maui fires, have proven the significance of AM radio for emergencies. This reliable resource has been instrumental in keeping citizens informed and aiding governments in disseminating crucial information. However, a looming potential challenge has emerged from the automotive industry, with plans to remove AM from car radio dials. This post delves into the critical role of AM radio in emergencies, shedding light on its importance, usage, and potential obstacles.

AM Radio for Emergencies: A Must-Have Tool

AM radio has emerged as an indispensable tool during emergencies, as exemplified by the recent Maui fires. Citizens and government agencies have turned to portable AM radio transmitters as a lifeline for sharing news, updates, and evacuation instructions. The simplicity, very low cost and widespread availability of AM radio make it accessible to a broad audience, even in areas with limited connectivity.

The low-frequency nature of AM radio signals allows them to travel longer distances and penetrate obstacles like buildings and terrain. This characteristic is particularly advantageous in emergency situations, where maintaining communication links can be challenging. Furthermore, the low cost & ease of use of AM radios makes them accessible to people of all ages and technological backgrounds.

Government and Citizen Collaboration: Sharing Vital Information

The Maui fires underscored the collaborative power of AM radio between government bodies and citizens. Government agencies utilized AM radio to broadcast evacuation plans, emergency contact information, and safety protocols. This mode of communication proved effective in reaching those without access to smartphones or the internet, ensuring that critical information reached every corner of the affected areas.

Citizens, on the other hand, actively contributed by sharing real-time updates and firsthand accounts over AM radio. This grassroots approach facilitated the spread of localized information that might have otherwise been overlooked. The combination of official broadcasts and citizen-led reporting created a comprehensive and accurate picture of the unfolding events.

The Conundrum: Automakers’ Plans to Remove AM Radio

In a recent turn of events, some US automakers have announced plans to remove AM radio from the car radio dial. This decision has left many puzzled, considering the pivotal role AM radio plays in emergencies. The convenience of in-car AM radio has made it a reliable source of information during road emergencies and natural disasters. Removing this feature might hinder drivers’ ability to stay informed when they need it most.

The proposed removal stems from the pursuit of modernization and the prioritization of digital alternatives. However, this shift fails to consider the potential consequences during emergencies when digital infrastructure may falter. While digital platforms are undoubtedly valuable, they cannot fully replace the reliability and reach of AM radio signals.

Here’s a hint of good news regarding the AM radio and new cars: Car & Driver Link

The Essential Nature of AM Radio Use in Emergencies

In emergencies, information can be a matter of life and death. AM radio’s resilience and extensive coverage provide a safety net that other communication methods struggle to replicate. When cellular networks are overloaded or power sources are compromised, AM radio remains a steadfast channel for updates and instructions.

The recent Maui fires serve as a stark reminder that emergencies can strike unexpectedly, often disrupting modern communication networks. During such times, the simplicity and robustness of AM radio come to the forefront. The ability to access vital information without dependency on intricate technology underscores the timeless importance of AM radio in safeguarding communities.

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FAQs about AM Radio for Emergencies

How does AM radio help during emergencies?

AM radio serves as a reliable communication tool during emergencies by offering wide coverage, long-distance transmission, and accessibility to a broad audience, ensuring that critical information reaches everyone, including those without internet access.

Why is AM radio still relevant in the age of digital communication?

AM radio’s resilience and simplicity make it a crucial resource when digital platforms falter during emergencies. Its ability to function without dependency on complex technology ensures uninterrupted communication.

How did AM radio assist during the Maui fires?

following the Maui fires, AM radio has played a pivotal role in disseminating evacuation/recovery plans, safety protocols, emergency supply distribution and real-time updates creating a comprehensive information network.

What challenges does the removal of AM radio from car dials pose?

Removing AM radio from car radio dials might hinder drivers’ access to critical information during road emergencies and disasters. Digital alternatives, while valuable, lack the same level of reach and reliability.

What advantages does AM radio offer in terms of coverage?

AM radio signals can travel longer distances and penetrate obstacles like buildings, making them ideal fo

r emergencies. This widespread coverage ensures that even remote areas receive essential updates.

How can individuals prepare to rely on AM radio during emergencies?

Keeping a portable AM radio device at home and in vehicles ensures access to information during emergencies. Familiarizing oneself with local AM stations and their frequencies is also beneficial. A reliable AM receiver can be found for less than $20 USD and could prove invaluable in an emergency.


In an increasingly interconnected world, the relevance of AM radio during emergencies cannot be overstated. The recent Maui fires highlight its invaluable role in disseminating crucial information and fostering collaboration between governments and citizens. As automakers grapple with the decision to remove AM radio from car dials,

it’s essential to recognize its enduring significance. AM radio’s simplicity, reach, and reliability position it as an indispensable lifeline, ensuring that communities stay informed and resilient during times of crisis.

Suggested AM Radios

  1. Pocket AM/FM
  2. Portable AM/FM
  3. Desktop AM/FM/Shortwave
  4. Micro with Headphones

learn more about AM radio and it’s use during emergencies in my e-book: Communications for the Prepared

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Cale(b) is an author, speaker, longtime stay at home dad and small business owner. He and his wife of over 25 years, Carla, have 5 beautiful children and 2 Goldendoodles. Caleb is a FM Radio veteran and licensed Amateur Radio Operator (K4CDN). In the days before kids and radio, he spent nearly a decade in the Professional Fire Service as an Engineer and EMT. Caleb’s heart to serve and to teach shines in his work, whether on the page or over the air.