The End of AM/FM Radio?

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A new car without a radio?apps pic

It sounds as unthinkable as a new car without floor mats or a heater. But there is a real danger that your next new car might come without an AM/FM receiver.

Or, might cost you extra.

Seriously.

As unthinkable as it sounds – and as undesirable as it would be (based on known consumer preferences; more on that in a minute) there is chatter in Detroit that the car industry is giving thought to retiring the AM/FM receiver in favor of music piped into the car via subscription-based satellite radio, iPods, smartphones and various mobile apps.

Rather than these technologies supplementing AM/FM radio – as they do right now – they would replace it.

Leaving you in the dark.

Well, in the quiet.radio pic

Unless you opened up your wallet and paid for the satellite radio hook-up.

Think of it as in-car audio on the cable TV model. Which you’d have no choice but to pony up for if the manufacturers stopped including AM/FM receivers in their new cars. You can imagine the effect this would have on the monthly subscription cost of SiriusXM and so on, since they’d have everyone over the proverbial barrel.

Hold onto your wallet!

As things stand, SiriusXM has to compete with free radio, which keeps prices low – and also probably keeps programming more varied. If AM/FM went away, with it would go thousands of smaller channels, the source waters for many of the Big Names in major outlet media we’re all familiar with today… before they became Big Names. (This includes, by the way, this writer – who is a frequent guest on regional/local AM/FM radio stations across the country.)

And no matter how much you spent, you’d still be unable to listen to your local stations.satellite radio pic

Satellite radio is great for national news – and a steady stream of ’70s hits, if that’s your thing. But if you want to hear local people discuss local issues… get local news, local sports, hear local broadcast personalities… well, there isn’t an app for that.

It’s not surprising, given all this, that most prospective car buyers are not interested in throwing AM/FM radio in the woods – so to speak – and being effectively forced to buy into fee-for-service audio, such as SiriusXM.

How many is “most”?

Well, consider that almost 250 million Americans tune into terrestrial radio each week, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau (see here) and a Feb. 15 IPSOS study (here) of people’s listening habits and preferences found that 84 percent still regularly listen to AM/FM. Only about a fourth (22 percent) of current car owners have Sirius/XM – and they use it in addition to their AM/FM receiver.

Fully 91 percent of those asked about it wanted the traditional radio with knobs and buttons; only 9 percent wanted that to go away in favor of an “app.”

People like satellite, HD, Pandora… but they don’t want to be restricted to those options – which typically require them to pay for a service or buy an electronic device (such as an iPad) they may not wish to carry around. They want more options, not fewer options. They want to be able to go from one source to another – not be pigeonholed into using one platform.pandora radio pic

Another factor is that while satellite radio offers a wealth of programming, it is not the same programming as that offered – for free – by AM/FM. Sure, there are commercials on AM/FM radio – but notwithstanding what you may have heard, exactly the same thing is true of satellite radio. Most of the talk/news channels – such as the Howard Stern Show, CNN and Blue Collar Radio do in fact have commercials. Which you’re paying to hear.

There may be commercials on AM/FM, but they’re free.

No cost to you, at any rate. Advertisers hope you’ll listen to their pitches, but they can’t put their hands into your pockets.FM dial pic

Also, while FM/AM coverage may be regional, satellite reception is often spotty. If you live in the country or a mountainous area with lots of tree overhang, you may have noticed – if you have Sirius/XM – that the signal sometimes (and sometimes, often) cuts out for as long as 15-30 seconds at a time or even longer. You miss the programming – and the signal come back on just in time for the next 10 minute batch of commercials.      

So, it’s odd to hear these whispers (and more) within the car industry about “the end” of terrestrial radio.

It’s still hugely popular – for several very good reasons. This isn’t an 8-track tape kind of situation. Apps, ipods and satellite radio are valuable additions to our menu of audio options. But AM/FM provides its own unique content, and in a way that people still very much want.

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97 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t listen to radio except on long trips. I used to listen to AM Talk but there are so many commercials my short commute was filled almost entirely by them and the actual programming was on for all of 90 seconds before I arrived at my destination.

    On long trips I either listen to prerecorded podcasts from my phone via USB or keep the FM radio on for background noise. On one 1000+ mile trip I listened to nothing but the road because I forgot to plug my phone in before leaving.

  2. There still is some value to local AM radio. A variety of programs, local topics, etc.

    But just to listen to straight up FM music is worthless. How many times can you hear Piano Man and Hotel California?

    Satellite radio is a great bargain all things considered.

    • Hi Donald,

      Well, I suppose it depends on what’s available in a given area. In mine, there’s a pretty cool station (Steve FM) that “plays everything”… an eclectic mix of good stuff (in my opinion) from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s mostly… I listen to it a lot while working on cars in my garage.

    • DR – I enjoy listening to FM music, but I don’t consider Piano Man and Hotel CA as music. Different strokes.
      I DON’T like that the only stations in this area that play music are NPR.

    • I say neither commercial banks nor central banks should have the power to ‘create’ money. Money should be a representative for true value, not determined by fiat.

      • It should be, but will not be unless it is out-competed by something better.

        Not only do they have the power to create money that makes our money nearly worthless in comparison.

        But they are seen as having the authority to do so. When centralized spending is accepted and even preferred, then their is little hope for the individual and our notions of freedom.

        The American police state will continue to grow and hold more authority than anything other single entity on earth. At least until China takes top place. We as individuals will only be permitted to have a small impact on the world. To encourage other nations to more cheaply produce what we’d like to consume. In limited ways only.

        It is the organized crony commercial cartel and militarized states that have far greater influence.

        Imagine if you would a beehive that is in serious trouble. Instead of a natural system of pollen collection and honey production.

        This hive collects coca leaves and makes crack cocaine and very little honey. The drones, the workers, and the queen are all addicted to crack. Only a little bit of this crack-headed hives effort goes to honey and staying alive. They are very unhealthy bees and their at their wits end really.

        That’s what the fiat economy of America is like and that is what we are infecting the world with in a major way. Most of what we know about philosophy has to be adjusted to account for this new reality. The old days of being a good worker bee and doing your part so you;ll be rewarded no longer apply I would argue.

        This is the problem. But what is the solution. That is what this blog is about. One thing is to reject the authority of those who use coercion. We don’t deny they have power. What we do deny is that we grant them any authority to yield this power.

  3. http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/car-tech/poll-84-percent-of-american-drivers-prefer-am-fm-radio-to-cds-bluetooth/ar-AAb1cwZ?ocid=DELLDHP

    Poll: 84 Percent of American Drivers Prefer AM/FM Radio to CDs, Bluetooth

    Jake Holmes

    Despite the increasing proliferation of high-tech infotainment systems in cars of all types and prices, few drivers have given up on traditional radio. According to a new Ipsos study, the majority of American drivers said they listen to AM and FM radio more than any other type of music in the car. Moreover, the majority of drivers said that the lack of an AM/FM radio would be a deal-breaker when buying a new car.

    In the survey, 84 percent of drivers said they still listen to AM/FM radio when driving, with 62 percent saying they do so every day. That’s not to say drivers have abandoned spinning silver discs, however, as 64 percent of respondents told Ipsos they still listen to CDs in their cars. Of those respondents, the average driver has 10.5 CDs in the car at any given time. However, they’re not exactly the latest hits: Ipsos found that 68 percent of respondents haven’t purchased a new CD in the past year, and that most drivers plan to start using streaming music websites instead of buying more CDs.

    “Despite all the technological advances we’ve made when it comes to digital listening, the vast majority of Americans still prefer AM/FM radio overall and especially expect it to be a part of their cars,” Ipsos MediaCT vice president Thomas Spinelli said in a statement. “In fact, virtually all said they wouldn’t buy a car without a radio.”

    Ipsos also found that among American drivers have switched to internet streaming services to listen to music in the car, only one-third of them actually pay for the services versus using free versions. Eighty percent said they don’t plan to pay for premium streaming music services in the future.

    Source: Ipsos

  4. On paper, a Tesla may come out soon that beats an IC car in every metric. But it’s unlikely many of us will consider them superior. There’s a difference between theory and reality. It’s a matter of aesthetics.

    Over time tastes are acquired, and norms change.

    For me biological beats mechanical beats digital. Commanding a chariot pulled by lightning fast horses will always outrank a 1977 Porsche 911, which outranks a 2019 Tesla Hyperloop going 700 mph in an evacuated intercontinental tubeway.
    – –

    Yes on paper, digital audio is superior. Technical workers, especially electrical engineers, can suffer from what you might call CMS (Closed Minded Syndrome),
    They rely solely on hard data and facts to draw a conclusion before testing the reality of the situation to determine correlation.

    I’m often guilty of the CMS effect myself, amassing a narrative using internet data. But my engineering mind has opened up quite a bit over the years. I’ve learned to no longer measure first and listen after,

    It’s best to do the opposite. Objective data has a way of biasing one’s sonic perceptions of a product. Using this approach is more useful to gauge your true enjoyment of a product. You should use measurements as a tool to troubleshoot potential design flaws, not necessarily to declare product superiority. That old ’64 Coronet and then Deville (’79? or ’78?) I used to drive just felt right in a way no modern car ever will.

    In the case of automotive aesthetics, I might throw a lot of data and studies around. It’s not hard to do. But when it comes to hauling, trucks, cars, and bikes. It is you real users that know the real story and can make all the online data, studies, and personal reviews take their rightful place as secondary confirmatory support.

  5. Why you hear some radio stations better at night:

    Ground-based radio signals are influenced by the ionosphere.

    Radio waves naturally travel in straight lines, because of the curvature of the earth, without the ionosphere effect, no radio station would transmit farther than 30 or 40 miles. This is exactly the case for ground-based TV transmissions.

    The curvature of the earth prevents ground-based TV transmissions from going much further than 40 miles.

    Certain radio stations, however, especially the sho­rt-wave and AM bands, can travel much farther. Short-wave can circle the globe, and AM stations transmit hundreds of miles at night. This extended transmission is possible is because of the ionosphere – a layer where many atoms lose electrons and turn into ions.

    The ionosphere reflects certain frequencies of radio waves. So the waves bounce between the ground and the ionosphere and make their way around the planet. The composition of the ionosphere at night is different when shielded by the mass of the earth at night, the earth is the densest object in the solar system. You pick up some radio stations better at night because the reflection characteristics of the ionosphere are better at night.­

    At night the F layer is the only layer of significant ionization present, while the ionization in the E and D layers is extremely low. The D and E layers become much more heavily ionized during daytime, as does the F layer, which develops an additional, weaker region of ionisation known as the F1 layer. The F2 layer persists by day and night and is the region mainly responsible for the refraction of radio waves.

  6. The comment from the trucker about those non left/east coast areas of the US with poor / no FM/AM reception totally misses the point,

    Eric is not arguing against Satellite radio, only against getting rid of terrestrial receivers as an option.

    you don’t lose from that, as you mostly have no terrestrial reception, but those of us who do, lose it.

    And the criticism from those about the content, is off the mark too:
    There are plenty of non-commercial / independent stations available to, say, 60-70% of the people in the country, that are worth listening too.

    Many college stations for example, or the now NPR-owned WQXR in NYC. It’s a no-commercial classic music station, and the political content is so minimal as to not intrude at all.
    Would def. miss those without a receiver.

    Have had satellite radio capability in the last three cars, nvr bothered much when it was “free”, and when that lapsed, good-by and good-riddance (and yes, there is some good stuff, but just not necessary)

    The notion of people signing up and paying for Sirius because Stern moved there, or becoming a pay-station customer just so you can see and talk about Tony Soprano or Walter White is just so stupid. Nothing is that important, and I was amazed that it actually worked (shouldn’t have been I guess.)

    None of those shows ran in Europe in pay-systems, they were picked up and shown on the regular no-pay systems (unedited too). cause people wouldn’t fall for that scam.

    Ditto pay-only sports, it just doesn’t matter.

    If it does, there’s always the internet, lol.

  7. Eric,

    Another great point.

    I assume the auto manufacturers have already debated this one and said, “hey, why not make AM/FM subscription based as well so WE can get a cut of the free pie?”

    Probably with an “app” that will be paid for yearly to unlock the capabilities of the radio for you to use. They can wrap it up into a package like OnStar. One subscription to own them all… Now you can “choose” to have radio or not.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. There are cranky old farts like myself, that are aggravated with everything being subscription. You pay ridiculous amounts for lousy cable TV, internet, phones, wifi, Sirius, and more. And more are coming, believe me. And all this time the economy gets worse and our dollars buy less, and we feel it is necessary to buy more and more of these unnecessary entertainments.

    • I got rid of cable tv last year, use roku and hulu plus with a 55 inch tv so I can travel hassle free in the world via travel shows. As for fm radio, I have a collection of ac/dc small radios I can put batteries in one of them and set it in the car seat for local stations, we have good stations in my area, also I have usb drive with lots of music copied from cd’s. Some cars may not have cd players in near future. People will raise hell if they can’t get radio as some stations are unique and folks are attached to them for years. Folks go buy and stash small radios, you may be glad you have them if or when they do away with car radios. I must have a dozen of them. I just knew years back I’d use them someday.

        • Jon: People listen to radio at home much more than in the car. Few spend much time in their car and many have usb music or xm satillite now. Smaller stations will go under-lack of revenue from ads. Time will tell. Popular now: country classics from 70’s thru 90’s, older pop music from 80’s 90’s in my area. Gospel music 24/7 (all types) I don’t waste time with talk shows.

          • Guess I’m a dinosaur. I ONLY listen to the radio when in the car. Too much else going on at home. (Netflix, anyone?)
            Plus I DO spend time in my car, minimum of an hour each way every work day. I’m sure I’m not alone, at least not on I-270

            • Phillip the Bruce,

              I probably do more than 90% of my radio listening in the car. The radio works well as background while doing other chores around the house.

              I do not know which I-270 you are writing about, but near DC it can be more like a parking lot than an Interstate during rush hour.

              • Yes, I’m talking Frederick, MD down to Gaithersburg.
                To call it an expressway does violence to the English language.

                • Phillip the Bruce,

                  There is a beautiful area traveling north on I-270 just after the road gets down to 2 lanes. You get over the hill and can see the surrounding area around Frederick. I like the view in the fall.

                  Fortunately, I never had to do the I-270 commute. Getting stuck in traffic once was enough for me.

                  The train at Shady Grove was ok to get into the downtown DC area for sight seeing.

                  • Hey Mith,

                    Are you familiar w/70 west of Frederick to Hagerstown? There is a spot on the Appalachian Trail, up top of South Mountain called Black Rocks. I can see that from my back deck and you can see my house and barn from up there.

                    • I usually did not travel much west of Frederick. I have traveled along I-70W to I-68W, so I have passed by the area you mention. Unfortunately, I have little memory of the area. The area around Frederick is very scenic. Many farms and other good country out there.

                      I-70 by milemarker 68 I have better memories in a 2001 VW TDI Golf traveling north of ekato. 🙂

                    • Frederick is also a great area for history buffs, re the “Civil” War – less than an hour from Gettysburg, Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, etc.

                • I used to know a guy who lived in the ‘burbs of DC. He said he had at least a 2 hour commute every day. I asked how far away he was and he said less than 30 miles. That’s doing a lot of idling.

                  Can you image the carnage if those car/planes starting in the fifties had ever come to fruition? You wouldn’t even be safe in rural homes. The clover mentality of taking their own time and route would be devastating.

                  • Yes 8, my commute is not THAT bad, but not good either. 46 mi. each way, and minimum of an hour unless it’s a federal holiday.
                    That’s one reason I don’t really want a manual tranny anymore.

    • dogg, you forgot the coming subscription charges for safe H2O and O2.

      Here in Tulsa rather than fixing the water treatment plant, by horror, raising taxes they switched to a different disinfectant and warned that the water is now not safe for aquariums, and folks with kidney problems. When those without kidney problems join that list?

  9. My car has AM, FM, USB port (where you can use flash memory sticks/MP3 files, a CD/DVD player that can read MP3s, WMAs, and AACs, as well as 3 bands of XM tuner.

    When I do happen to listen to the radio it annoys me because of the incessant commercials, the repetition of songs, and the propaganda being broadcast through every possible avenue. Whether it is NPR or the ‘comedy morning shows’ the messages are consistent.

    I have a music library that is rather large, thanks in part to my former role as a consumer purchasing CDs (prior to the Napster era) and sharing my library with other people who have large libraries.

    I mainly listen to the USB input and carry around a few 16GB memory sticks loaded with different genres. No more need for CDs or worrying about them being scratched. No more cassettes getting eaten or sounding like crap.

    The USB port on both factory and aftermarket radios is a godsend IMO.

    It eliminates the other inputs.

    Also it is worth noting that most radio stations are owned by Clear Channel, thus the ‘news’ they broadcast is created by a central office and distributed to all of them.

    Listening to it is like watching commercial television. You are being programmed.

    10 minutes of NPR is enough to get me yelling at the radio.

    I don’t miss radio because it is not what it was. It is now just another avenue for advertising, propaganda, and auto-tuned no talent assclowns.

    To borrow another lyric from Neil Peart and Rush:

    “Art as expression, not as market campaign.”

    Rush the band (not the shill) on my memory stick plugged into the USB port in my center console: WINNING.

    I row through the gears with traction control off, no seatbelt buzzer, no DRLs, and enjoying the sweet sounds of the engine and some excellent music commercial free.

    Clover might get mad when I pass but he simply cannot keep up and I cannot hear his feeble cries.

    • 2cents – you are so off the mark with your comments about Clear Channel. First off, Clear Channel or more correctly, “iHeartMedia” (it’s new moniker) owns 800 of the 15,000 commercial radio stations in the US – not an inconsequential number, but by no means “…Clear Channel OWNS all the radio stations…” Really that’s a patently ridiculous assertion on your part.

      Secondly, CC stations don’t receive their news from one location. If you bother to listen to any CC stations, you’ll notice that some are Fox affiliates, others broadcast ABC, CBS, USA or any number of other news providers programming. The news is programmed from any “central location”. Really, what conspiracy sauce have you been drinking?

      • Iconoclast, I understand where you’re coming from. I often hit the road anywhere from 4-5 am so hearing the same old “hits” I’ve been hearing for 50 years gets old fast. If they’d play more of the 50 year old stuff I’d enjoy it more than the late 60’s and 70’s rock that’s been played to death. The John Boy and Billy show come on at 5 am on the station I can get first thing and then at 6 am for a station 110 miles away(a big gap for some vehicles, none for others). They are as politically stupid as you can get but they do have some funny monologues from various people.

        When that show is off though, I’m searching, mostly without success, for some music I haven’t heard every day for decades. Ah, Sirius fill that niche. For the most part, I don’t have to hear that Statist propaganda that fills the spots between music.

        Yesterday I had a hotshot load into far west Tx. I had no Sirius so I had no radio. That particular truck had a radio I could have plugged an MP3 or phone into or a Sirius radio but I’m old school and suffered the silence or deafening roar as it is in that rig. I finally caught a decent FM station(again) after going through 4 counties(twice). That station serves a decently sized area and has a lot of advertising from local business. It would be a shame if that weren’t there. I need to get my Zen fixed. At least I have a lot of classical music on it I haven’t heard tens of thousands of times.

        Another aspect of satellite radio for me is stations with a lot of historical info about the music as it’s played.

        I really enjoy various FM and Sirius stations Sunday mornings, one of the best times to travel…..little traffic comparatively and not much badged thug harassment. FM and Sirius both have gospel music for an hour or most of the morning I thoroughly enjoy. I don’t subscribe to any religion and don’t even really like to discuss them but I was raised listening(and singing) to this music. Rarely is there a song I don’t know every lyric to. My wife, who was raised Catholic, and like many former Catholics, can’t tolerate religion of any sort but she’ll put up with my southern Baptist music(for the most part). When we first got married and attended a funeral she’d never heard any of it. Of course that was the perfect time for me to sing nearly every part of every song. I recall the first time it went on for several songs and I’d bounced from one part to another, she turned and stared at me like I was singing Klingon. We got back to the car and she said something like “You really are full of it”. I laughed out loud and said “Get the feeling sister, let joy fill your heart”. She said something like “Maybe if you get stoned you’ll change music”. I said “hell, I am stoned and those couple snorts that brother Brantly gave me didn’t hurt a bit”. She learned to put up with it and enjoy it to some extent. She probably didn’t see my shower “musical scores” coming but at least she knew them. I can mix and match too. Indeed brothers and sisters, the Hills ARE Alive with the Sound of Music and I can see them all from That Old Rugged Cross. Seems like FM never plays showtunes…..hhmmmm

    • I don’t miss radio because it is not what it was. It is now just another avenue for advertising, propaganda, and auto-tuned no talent assclowns.

      Few things infuriate me like tuning into an FM classic rock station first thing in the morning, hoping to get my day off to a good start by hearing some of the great tunes from the past, only to have my eardrums and my intelligence assaulted by a pair of “no-talent assclowns” trying to convince people that they’re funny (and usually always failing miserably at the attempt). Seriously, I hope the person(s) who originated the concept of these “morning teams” on FM radio is/are burning in the deepest flames of hell. The LAST thing I want to hear first thing in the morning before facing a day of dealing with juveniles in adult bodies is to hear a pair of juveniles in adult bodies remind me of how fast civilization is tanking. Give me high-pitched static or an hour of the emergency broadcast system signal first!

      • I’m a big fan of to old time radio. Ads used to be coherently integrated into programming. Programs were a vehicle to bring books and short stories to life. A radio show was a story enhanced with emotional voice acting, engaging sound effects, and music. They were superior to mere written words.

        Over time a lot of gimmicky crap of the kind you mention and others came to find a place on the airwaves. The various broadcasting laws were flogged to warp content and force radio to integrate Pravda style pro-American group-think and uplifter censorship into everything.

        Then television came along and ruined what little remained. In television, ads are not integrated. They are jolting psychological breaks in the process. You could hardly get through 5 or 10 minutes of content before you were assaulted and shoved into something completely irrelevant.

        Soon broadcast media became almost entirely about flogging products. And developing story lines that led to situations where the characters overcame their obstacles by purchasing products and services.

        Voice actors were expected to manipulate listeners into coveting all these products. And seeing them as the solutions to the stories. Broadcast was no longer about enhancing the written word. Now it was about serving the ruling class agendas, and enslaving the listeners minds and making them ravenous consumerbots who can never be filled.

        Weenie and the Butt at the Quahog Airshow

        It’s like Geddy Lee says, capitalism can’t be just about raw consumption stats. America isn’t necessarily great because it has the largest economy.

        Size is important, but quantity is only a plus, if the quality is there.

        I question the integrity and the heart of American capitalism. There’s a bully in the shadows preventing broadcasters from presenting a quality product.

        I know they’re capable, I have vast archives of radio shows since Metropolitan Opera House first broadcast a performance in 1910 and inaugurated the broadcast market.

        *Other early broadcasts

        The very first transmission of music was by Dr. Nussbaumer of the University of Graz in 1904, however it was not to the general public.

        He yodeled an Austrian folk song into an experimental transmitter which was received in the next room at the university where he worked.

        Lee De Forest did a program of opera phonograph records from the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1908. This was an experimental stunt to other nearby hobbyists and not considered a public broadcast. The general public had no access to receivers at the time.

      • I hear what you’re saying, Lib, but I’m sure I’m not the only one here who thinks ‘classic rock’ is a contradiction in terms. I listen to oldies – usually anywhere from 100-400 years old. I do sometimes listen to the local AM station (Clear Channel w/Faux news), mostly for traffic reports. But they do run local news as well.

    • I can not comment on the quality of new (I am assuming you mean within last 5yrs of circa 2010 and later) receivers, but I can hear certain AM stations over great distances.

      When I traveled to TN, I was able to catch 760 AM from Detroit and 660, 710, 770, and 880AM out of NYC after dark. I think it is common to be able to receive the more powerful AM stations 500-800 miles away during the night.

      If you are referring to FM, then I agree that FM stations have a shorter effective listening range (< ~50-70 miles from station for more powerful stations) than AM radio. (Sources: 1 and 2)

      • That’s actually a plus about AM stations. Because the ionosphere disappears at night, AM radio waves, which are longer than their FM equivalents, are able to refract for longer distances. Thus the ability to pick up stations at night that hundreds of miles away from your location.

      • Many AM stations only broadcast during daylight hours, and others at reduced wattage after sundown – BECAUSE of the extended range otherwise. To Mith’s list add WLS (810?) Chicago and KAAY 1090 Little Rock.

  10. eric, not everyone lives in a saturated everything market like you and many other do. Draw a line at the ms. river and the further west you travel, the less radio of any kind there is. I frequently travel though many counties in a very large area of Tx. with no terrestrial radio. It’s certainly not the only state where this is true either.

    All our company light trucks have Sirius as well as AM/FM radio. We have $500 cell phone boosters too just to hit a tower and phone service is critical for us. I can’t get a two way radio that reliably communicates the distances and places I go.

    There are vast amounts of the west where this is true. I also LIKE Sirius radio but not exclusively. I really wouldn’t worry about AM/FM going away. Not all of the US is like the NE….thankfully.

    I agree with Goldwater when he was campaigning for prez and said he’d like to take a knife and cut the eastern seaboard lose and let it float out into the Atlantic. The left coast is the only region to have anything in common with the right coast and that’s debatable except for the size of population centers.

    If everyone spent as many hours every day as i do with no terrestrial radio, they’d be glad to pay for Sirius. Neither satellite or over the air radio is the end all be all, he very reason we don’t need to worry about AM/FM going away.

    And your prediction of pickups being gone in 10 years is another thing I lend zero credence to. I can’t imagine what would replace them. Pickups pulling trailers with GVW’s over 30,000 lbs won’t be replaced in 10 years for sure. Big rigs are too expensive. RR’s are only good for moving vast amounts of freight to large distribution areas.

    The huge amount of local advertising on terrestrial radio won’t soon be replaced. People who envision that have lived too long in those crumbling ruins called cities.

    As George who writes for Jalopnick said “I’m moving back to Texas soon”, so indicates the feeling of a great many people who have experienced the big city to excess and know the other side of the equation.

    As an aside, I read this past week where the greatest exodus of people migrating from one state to another has already happened to a great extent and the largest migration consists of 3.1% of productive(not on welfare)citizens of Ca. already having moved to Tx. It’s happened in other states as well,just not to this extent. Toyota just announced it was shuttering it’s oldest plant, in Ca., and moving it to Tx. This is good news for some, not so good for others(me). I personally know of many people who have moved from Ca. to Tx. with no plans to move again, and if up to me, they”d have had to apply for a visa, a difficult to obtain visa.

    i believe those who predict no terrestrial radio in vehicles have the big city tunnel vision too. There’s a different perspective on life when you drive 60 miles to the store.

    • Please excuse my poor typing. I had a crazy mama cat bite through a couple fingers today and I was wearing welding gloves. Did I mention crazy?

    • Hi Eight,

      I don’t think I argued that trucks will be gone in ten years… just much less common or much more expensive (likely both).

      CAFE regs – which now apply equally to trucks will assure this unless repealed or dramatically modified.

      Because short of a miracle, a 1500 that averages 35 MPG is as likely as Clover becoming a Libertarian!

      • eric, more expensive is a given isn’t it? Less common, in certain areas, probably, and maybe everywhere depending on the cost of oil. Nearly every woman I know, regardless income “wants” a “truck” as they say. They never have anything to haul. The often limit trips since the fuel cost is so much more and have hell paying insurance.

        My wife works with a lot of women and most want a truck…and have one, almost always a Dodge since they’re cheap…..but it’s a “truck” by their definition. Every now and then I’ll stop briefly. The wife points to the red Peterbilt I drive and says “That’s a truck(points to a pickups and says )That’s a pickup. They smile….close enough they’re thinking.

        I often hear men speaking of their new truck too. I never know if they’re speaking of a KW or a Ford. At least pickups are substantial enough now they don’t develop a lean on the driver’s side (mostly)from the vastly overweight driver. I hate to get off on a bend but how many times have you seem a vehicle that leaned to one side and looking at the person(s)riding in it, knew why instantly?

        Big Gulps and Big Mac’s aren’t the only thing that super-sized these days. And I don’t just mean weight wise either. Maybe it’s a southwest thing but everybody seems to be at least a foot taller than me these days. Not just men either.

        A few years ago I worked with a woman that was head of a local tv station. She was extremely good looking, wore very high heels and was 6’6” tall before putting on the heels. Her office desk was on the opposite wide of the room thankfully so I could tilt my head way back and look her in the face. If I didn’t do that I would simply be speaking to her breasts. I think that may have been when I realized why bars have stools. Sorry to get off-subject.

        As far as light trucks getting better mileage, it won’t happen with everything about them getting larger. Ford can put ridiculously sized engines in them and they’ll simply work that much harder. A friend bought one of the first V-6’s they made. It was big box full size pickup. It worked hard to pull all that and it didn’t even have uber-sized wheels and tires.

        10 years ago everybody I knew used diesels to pull big trailers as well as their huge RV trailers(ten years into their diesel days). Buy any sort of aftermarket controller, stand on your head, try to find routes that were always downhill but it didn’t matter. A big fifth wheel RV poking a 13′ hole in the wind still required about 9 mpg. The only guy I knew to break that had an88 model Chevy 6.2 with a Banks turbo system. I’m not sure his less heavy foot didn’t make the difference too.

        • She was extremely good looking, wore very high heels and was 6’6″ tall before putting on the heels. Her office desk was on the opposite wide of the room thankfully so I could tilt my head way back and look her in the face. If I didn’t do that I would simply be speaking to her breasts.

          Did you ever see the footage or the stills of Mickey Rooney meeting Jayne Mansfield?

    • I live in the S.E. which is also a saturated everything market, like going to a buffet with tons of choices. Gotto get busy and do usb copies from cd’s as cd players will be next to go (unless you pay extra). I’ve culled the cd’s and have way less, will listen to them at home with Bose speakers. Nothing stays the same.

  11. Great article:

    As a self-proclaimed audio snob, I can honestly say that satellite radio leaves a lot to be desired in terms of audio quality.

    Sure the signal to noise ratio is high (no hiss), but the dynamics and “flanging” effect you hear due to data compression is terrible.

    I bought a Sirius “lifetime” subscription back in 2004 for my in-laws. I was planning to purchase the same for myself until I heard how poor the audio quality was.

    Even my wife who normally says “it is good as long as it is loud” hardly used the “free” 3 month XM subscription she got with her 2007 Accord due to crappy, lifeless sound.

    Perhaps it has gotten better since 2007, but I was in the audio engineering group at Chrysler as late as 2012 and the biggest quality complaint we received through the warranty system was poor audio quality on satellite radio.

    The old adage: “You can’t polish a turd” comes to mind.

    I’ll take a “hissy” FM broadcast any day.

    Anybody got any experience with Pandora or other internet radio source? How is the sound quality?

    In my opinion – satellite is OK for talk, but for music, it falls massively short.

    Sirius / XM has heavily favored quantity over quality. Too low a bit rate over too many channels.

    My 2 cents.

    • Thanks, Blake!

      In my area – rural/mountainous – spotty reception is a big problem. Going up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are several places I routinely lose signal for 15 seconds or more at a time, which is hugely annoying.

      • eric, spotty reception of what? Are satellites too far south? I recall back in the day of C band satellite tv the further N you were the larger dish it required.

      • Friends in the Blue ridge Mts. area (N.C.) use usb or cd player, radio stations fade out off and on, in the Appalachian mt range. One man is in his truck much of the day going house to house pest control.

    • Blake, when was the last time you listened to satellite radio? I’ve listened to them since ’07. Any radio is iffy in my country. All our company trucks of various sizes have Sirius,AM/FM radios. I haven’t noticed any difference in FM and Sirius in pickups since 2012 models. I realize my 65 year old ears aren’t what they used to be. (Excuse me, could you repeat that please?) I know I’m probably missing some subtleties but I can’t tell the difference. FM is digital too as in the reproduction equipment. Unfortunately our old solid state stuff all died the death of too many years of use. I’m always threatening to get an amp revived(if it’s even possible)and return to vinyl. We had some seriously expensive equipment and I never found a tape of any type i thought rivaled vinyl. I did hear a few things I had never heard before when we started using CD. And running it through old equipment may have been the best sound we ever had. The first time I heard Moody Blues Days of Future Past, we heard 20 seconds of the first song we’d never heard on anyone’s vinyl and we used very expensive systems back in the day.

      • Hi Eightsouthern.

        I listened back in 2012 to factory premium audio systems from Chrysler. Chrysler’s premium audio systems are pretty good. My ears were 43 years old at the time and I could easily hear the difference.

        I don’t think the problem is 65 year old ears. Old age normally reduces high frequency hearing first. The problem with satellite is not insufficient high frequency content that “oldsters” like us might not pick up.

        What I’m saying is listen to the same song on satellite, and then an FM broadcast (very hard experiment to set up I realize), or CD, or even mid level bit rate encoded MP3 and you’ll notice the satellite has a noticeable “Flange” effect, and also has less life and energy than the MP3, CD, or FM radio broadcast. FM sources do not compress the source material nearly as much – since it costs no more “space” over the FM airwaves to transmit at a higher quality.

        A good analogy is saying fluorescent lights are “equivalent” to incandescent. In terms of luminous intensity – sure. Corrected Color Temperature – sure. But in terms of Color Rendering Index (CRI) – it’s no competition.

        This is the reason you’ll never find fluorescent lights at an art gallery (or my living room)

        Now I’m sounding really snobbish. I better go:)

        FYI – I’m no luddite. I dumped vinyl, and tubes (which some audio snobs still swear by) long ago.

        • Blake, I don’t say vinyl is superior since I had never heard the twenty seconds of the first song on Days of Future Past, clearly an improvement, just saying I enjoy the sound of vinyl. I’m not sure though that solid state vs, digital amps isn’t better when listening to digital music. Of course that is determined a great deal by the amplifiers themselves as well as the digital players of various sorts.

          Funny thing about fluorescent lighting. My mother would take me into stores chocked full of the stuff and i’d go bonkers as a child, I’d flee. I was into my 30’s before I’d lost enough high pitched hearing not to be driven crazy by the high pitched ballasts and bulbs of fluorescent lights. Most people in their early 20’s at least or sometimes by 20 have lost the ability to hear those really high pitched sounds. I’m amazed growing up shooting guns and then hot-rodding I had any hearing left, much less high pitched. Oh yeah, I do hear high pitched notes, nearly constantly. Tinnitis, it’s wonderful.

    • Like 8, I spent several years in noisy environments, first around farm machinery, then in a machine shop where a LOT of compressed air was used freely
      But I don’t care how good your hearing is, or how good your car or car sound system are. A vehicle is far from the ideal environment to listen to music, esp. real music where a change in volume means more than just loud and louder.
      FM works fine for me, even though my choices (for my choice of music) are limited to NPR and NPR.

      • PtB, you’ll be one of the few who know what I’m speaking of but those old Poppin Johnnies were a bit abusive weren’t they? And not just in sound. That spinning PTO wheel would burn whee out of you. Spend the whole day doing point rows and you were ready for another farm, the funny farm.

        • 8 – I remember the A’s and B’s, but never worked with them much. Grandpa and his brother/partner bought a Ferguson 30 the year I was born, and though they owned the A for another dozen years, they never again hooked the plow up to it.

          • We had a Ford/Ferguson, a decent tractor but not as large or powerful as the B. The next one i remember was the 30 series of which we had the 3010. It was light years ahead of everything else except the Farmall M and was better in my hindsight by quite a bit with hydraulics and a sweet, reliable engine.

            I still own a 1968 propane 4020 that’s original and ready to work. It was the year model that changed the hydraulic controls from the right side to the dash. They were way overengineered, hence, still being used as original even if they’ve been overhauled. Nobody ever made the mistake of overbuilt like that again. Still plenty of them around.

            • A neighbor had a 4010 gas, that would not run more than a few hours w/o a refill.
              I ran the MF65 diesel out of fuel once. Since I was just a teenager, my uncle wasn’t toooo pissed at me. But a neighbor came by while he was bleeding the injector lines and said “What’s wrong? I thought those diesels were supposed to run all day.” To which I got to tell him, “They do, but I tried to go 3 days.”

  12. Open airwaves. An essential freedom, of a piece with open roads.

    Automotive authority doubleplus threaten usurp Broadcast authority. It’s a Borg Cube eat Borg Cube world now. Numquam enim succumbet!

    “The Spirit Of Radio” N Peart, G Lee, A Lifeson

    Begin the day with a friendly voice. A companion unobtrusive. Plays that song that’s so elusive. And the magic music makes your morning mood.

    Off on your way, hit the open road. There is magic at your fingers. For the Spirit ever lingers. Undemanding contact in your happy solitude.

    Invisible airwaves crackle with life. Bright antennae bristle with the energy.
    Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength. Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free.

    All this machinery making modern music. Can still be open-hearted. Not so coldly-charted. It’s really just a question of your honesty, yeah. Your honesty.

    One likes to believe in the freedom of music. But glittering prizes and endless compromises. Shatter the illusion of integrity.

    For the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall. Concert hall.
    And echoes with the sounds of salesmen.

    Nuntiī meam tradidissem? Molon labe! Dicite si potestis, milites.

  13. Farg it,thats why if the wifey leaves,so will the sat TV,I will not willingly pay money to watch paid superlative actors promote hard on pills or some other stupid drek,for 19 minutes out of 60.The car builders can do what they want,but I choose not to participate(has anyone noticed you can spend a hard days wages in a doctors office in 15 minutes and still not get any satisfaction,other then another appointment?)

  14. one good thing to come out of losing am/fm radio is that the “me me me” reckless drivers would have to deal with losing thier blabbering hero Rush Limbaugh.Clover

  15. I have a feeling that elimination of the AM/FM radios in vehicles will not be permitted to happen until ClearChannel and (the company that owns the other half of all terrestrial radio stations) have positioned themselves to be on the profit side of the equation.

    Maybe that would be heralded by a buyout of Sirius/XM by one of them. Maybe they’ll each get a half?

    • From what I understand, Sirius/XM is in deep financial trouble and has been for quite some time. Maybe this is the result of some of the bigwigs within that company using what little capital they have left to “grease some palms?”

  16. A helpful hint about Sirius/XM pricing. Their retail rates are obscene. But if you don’t renew, and wait about 6 weeks, they may make you an offer at close to half price. I took that.

    Seems that 90% of the time, I just listen to Margaritaville Radio. Nice, but not essential. Next time, I’ll let it expire, and won’t re-up unless they offer me a rate at no more than 1/3 retail.

    • I plan to do the same thing with DirecTV. They raise their subscription rates every year, to the point where I’m now paying an obscene amount of money each week to watch all of six channels that pay attention to for no more than four hours per week. I can think of better and more productive ways to waste money.

  17. 2003 f350 I picked up (for parts) a while back had an AM only factory radio. No FM, no CD, no pod plug. It seemed odd that they even bothered with a radio.

    Doing away with the radio does not bother me. Every vehicle I have bought in the last 20 years (except 2003 f350) had an aftermarket CD deck installed anyway.

    My current DD has a $99 aftermarket CD deck with a USB plug. $9 16gb thumb drive loaded with mp3s and I have not heard a commercial or song I did not choose in years. I might not hear some of the latest music immediately, but friends know my tastes and suggest things I might like so I hear them eventually.

    It’s not like I would be buying anything made after 2000 to drive anyway.

    Of course soon the RIAA will probably manage to get DUI type roadblocks to inspect your thumb drive for unauthorized MP3s and any vehicles older than than 20 years will be deemed unsafe and crushed.

    • Not only thumb drives but my Zen holds many Gigs. I intend to purchase a smart phone for the 32 GB of music you can store as well as flash drives that hold as much as you want to purchase.
      I like Sirius better than any radio i ever heard including XM. I listen to practically every type of music but my favs are rock and roll, rock of all sorts and old country, real country.

      Early, wee hours, Sat. morning Willie’s Roadhouse plays some really old, obscure country. The more hours we have to spend on the road getting to my rig, the site and equipment, the better. It evolved into a game of: name that song, that artist, the songwriter, the year and who else has done it. Somebody’s always blocking the readout so we have to guess. It’s a good time. Since I’m 20 years older than anyone else, they get to ask me about the songs on Classic Vinyl, another good station.

  18. Little known fact – lots of smartphones have the hardware to receive radio broadcasts. But the cell companies commonly request that it be disabled because they can’t make as much money from monthly data cap overage charges with it.

    So even if your car doesn’t have a radio, your Bluetooth-linked phone *might*. But you can’t get to it.

    • chiph, we commonly listen to internet radio via smartphone via vehicle radio. It’s cheap in places with wifi that many businesses have so you can use your phone without incurring extra costs. Some construction sites have wifi these days.

      • I agree – if you’re in an area with 3G or LTE coverage, Pandora over your phone is amazing.

        But I can’t help thinking back to when I drove from San Antonio to El Paso in the 80’s. The only radio stations I could pick up were the million-watt Mexican stations, so I listened to cassette tapes (remember those?). These days, it’s a 16gb USB stick.

        • chiph, not a great deal has changed in far west Tx. Mexican stations are still the only thing that last for more than 10 minutes and much of what’s available I’d as soon not hear and I’m speaking of all the way up the panhandle and NM. I went through 4 counties twice yesterday with no terrestrial radio and the old KW has no Sirius. Parts of those counties though have 4G coverage though. Since the patch depends on cell phones so much new towers are sprouting everywhere.

  19. I have had cars w/ AM only, no FM, most recently my Y2K Prism, but I have not had that since ’08. Our 2 current vehicles both have AM/FM and CD changers. The Sportwagen also has a jack to plug in a line source, e.g., iPod. The Sportwagen also came with a 6 mo. trial of Sirius, but I couldn’t find anything on there for which I would be willing to pay to hear. Listened mostly to the comedy stations while it lasted. My taste in music is classical, classical and classical (EXCEPT opera). Sirius (this was before the merger w/XM) had 3 classical stations and one of them was only opera.
    I actually listen mostly to a couple of NPR stations that both play classical. When the music stops and they start talking on 1, I switch to the other. Afterall, my tax dollars are helping to pay for it. Of course they are full of horse-hockey when they call it ‘commercial free.’ The commercials are just a slightly different type. I NEVER listen to NPR news.

    • @ Philip the Bruce –

      Dropping one of the Classical Channels, leaving only two and one of which being opera, is what caused me to drop Sirius/XM.

      Not to mention the atrocious playlists on the Classical channel that remained.

      Wait all day, suffering through contemporary Russian racket, just to hear one movement of a Haydn or Mozart symphony.

      • We used to have a ‘commercial’ classical station here in the DC area, but they couldn’t compete with 2 tax-feeders. The company that ‘owned the license’ decided they needed it more for news/weather/traffic (which they already had on an AM station).
        When they were still on the air, they played ‘Mozart in the Morning’ every day at 8am, because listening to Mozart makes you smarter.

  20. I think it needs to be made clear here that “free radio” is not in the least bit free. Leaving aside the crony capitalist history of how Herbert Hoover foisted the FCC on the American public back in the 20s, and the subsequent decades of political favoritism and cronyism involved in the allocation of radio spectrum, good economic analysis has shown that the current system of spectrum licensing produces tremendous opportunity costs to the average consumer. The AM/FM wireless bands from an electrical engineering standpoint are probably the most useful areas of the EM spectrum. Thomas Hazlett (an economist who specializes in this area) has estimated that US consumers lose on the order of 3/4 of a TRILLION DOLLARS in consumer value each year because of the way the FCC allocates spectrum rights. I’ll link to his analysis below.

    http://mason.gmu.edu/~thazlett/papers.html

    I particularly suggest his paper “The Case for Liberal Spectrum Licenses”.

    I recognize that people are so used to AM/FM radios given that damn near everyone alive has had them in their cars for decades. But that does not mean they are a good (let alone ideal) arrangement compared to what we could have if a real market in wireless spectrum existed.

    • why licenses at all. the most that’s needed is a handle. temporary or permanent handles being up to the creating individual.

      isn’t there far more intelligible space in various radio spectra than there is on the internet.

      a whole new array of multiple universes of radio transmissions awaits our creation.

      billions or maybe trillions of individuals/entities could each transmit at various frequencies, amplitudes, and modulations in countless protocols and transmission standards.

      you could even create radio frequency life of a sort. set the initial paramaters of a repeating broadcast and various other adaptive sub-algorithms.

      humans can be thought of as a transmission of cells that each transmit about 52 times in an average lifespan.

      imagine instead of a hard coded scripted transmission of Bill & Ted and their pre-ordained “excellent adventure.”

      the various characters,scenes, smart language dialogs, and core principles of the authors visions could be put out into space, and then left to chance and whimsy.

      maybe in Bill & Ted’s Excellent iteration 753-Tor, instead of Socrates being the narrative pivotal philosopher and George Carlin being the protagonist comedian.

      I initiate a broadcast of an alternate version with Nietzsche and Bill Hicks and a slightly different Excellent Adventure altogether. All world users are then free to interact and alter 753-Tor to make 753-Tor-A, 753-Tor-B, and 753-Tor-C.

      All children are still the property of their intellectual property fathers. But in this new radio world. Everyone procreates prolifically and Hobbes is kept at bay, since there is no known scarcity in the radio spectral context.

      Really there could be far more than one of everything, if we could all just let go of our Borg Cubical notions of scarce singular consensus police state grid property matrices.

      • “isn’t there far more intelligible space in various radio spectra than there is on the internet.

        a whole new array of multiple universes of radio transmissions awaits our creation.

        billions or maybe trillions of individuals/entities could each transmit at various frequencies, amplitudes, and modulations in countless protocols and transmission standards.”

        Spectrum is as scarce and as infinite as underlying engineering allows it to be. It is totally a technical question. If the technology in question produces radio signals which can interfere unduly with other peoples radio signals, then this is essentially a trespass and a property rights violation. BUT, if you are able to produce signals that do not interfere with other people’s, then yes the point is moot.

        This is why tradeable permits are still a better system. As underlying technology improves, scarcity diminishes and tradeable licenses can efficiently expand the use of this useable spectrum. Once the technology improves to the extent that spectrum is effectively infinite, then yes it mostly would come down to simply registering a personal handle. We are however not there yet from an engineering perspective, so we need something in place to deal with the current scarcity until that time.

        • I think there is far less scarcity than you’ve been led to believe.

          They claim:

          The maximum number of radio stations that can simultaneously be broadcast on the AM/FM band if channels were perfectly distributed with one channel every 400 khz – you could have 30 FM and 20 AM stations available on this band.

          How AM and FM Works

          Propagation of electromagnetic radiation

          There must be ways to create base carrier waves and modulate data on them that are far denser than what we now do. Our thoughts must be waves of some sort. We can see vision in our mind, which is also a modulated wave.

          Our current AM/FM is the equivalent of burning whale oil or firewood. Those forms of energy are not as energy dense as is nuclear fuel. Our current AM/FM broadcasting is not very data dense.

          There must be ways to broadcast signals thousands or millions of times more dense than is now done. It will be this break through in information density that will enable human radio broadcasts to finally approach the already extant natural radio broadcasts of elemental particles that make up the universe all around us.

          Consider your own living broadcast. An average human is essentially a bag of water with a 2.5 cm skin weighing 62 kg. If you’re an average north american human, then 81 kg. Both have a density of 1 gram per cubic cm.

          We breathe an atmosphere of density .001 grams per cubic cm. We walk on a lithosphere averaging 3.3 grams per cubic cm. In the depths of the Earth below, there is a liquid ball of fusioning plasma of a density averaging 13 grams per cubic cm. We inhabit a universe 10^-30 grams per cubic cm.

          We inhabit a planetary sphere of a radius of 3,960 miles with 8.7 million different species. There are 75 billion tons of living things on this Earth whose total mass is 6.580 sextillion tons.

          If you first killed all life, and then painstakingly developed a system of tradable living certs, worrying what species might do what to whatever other species, you’d never get anywhere near what already exists today. Emergent order is an abundant and prevalent norm plainly observable everywhere.

          The radio spectrum need be no different. As many things can be broadcast as can live. Far more actually, since many broadcasts can occupy the same space simultaneously.

          I won’t disagree that a system of tradable chits is better than a top down Borg authoritarian matrix structure, but neither is necessarily the best. Hazlett

          Natural engineering includes defending yourself from trespass and corporeal violation in a two-tiered process where you are both and individual tryin your best at competing individually, and also working in cooperation with various communities of mutual network who accomplish various desired goals in tandem together.

          I’ll look thru these papers, and see how many different frequencies are considered available for trade. And work from there.

          Consider just your own body yet again. 100 trillion cells cooperating with each other and competing to survive and co-thrive and cast off the bad cells and live to divide and be born again.

          Cells are made of molecules. Molecules made of atoms, which are made of quarks. At high enough magnification, we are a vacuum. We truly are a living transmission of a kind. Mostly signal, and little to no real form.

          With you finger, you tap a nickel, which is 75% copper 25% nickel both of which are of density 9 grams per cubic cm. It feels real. The hollographically broadcast elements are transmitted and your brain touches these elements which feel like they’re real and solid. But both these metals are no more dense than are solar system.

          5 cents seems a hard fact, but like everything else in our solar system, its just another tchotchke doodad among many orbiting doodads in this magnetic heliosphere of average density of 2 x 10^-12 grams per cubic cm. Again, all life and matter is a type of signal, each of which signals are for the far greater part, utter empty void and nothingness.

          Of course we have to adopt something artificial and arbitrary from time to time. But lets not construct theoretical carts to exacting specifications while completely ignoring the very real and far more crucial horsepowers that be which are needed to pull all these carts.

          I have read much of Hazlett, but we need not precisely forecast what will arrive sans the statist matrices that now constrain our possibilities. As Hayek said, order will emerge. We know that order of some kind of spontaneous order will always emerge as Menger long ago foretold and well documented for Mises, Rothbard, and now us today to witness and affirm.

  21. I think the auto manufacturers would have a hard time foisting this on unwilling consumers in a competitive market, where you can go and buy an aftermarket radio with FM.

    That being said, the one time I drove a rental car with XM radio — holy smokes, was that an improvement over FM.

    I generally listen to my large collection of CDs when driving because the FM stations are full of chatter instead of music.

    • Me either!

      I’m actually getting ready to re-install my ’76 TA’s original AM/FM receiver, which I’ve had restored to as-new functional condition.

  22. I can’t stand these touch screen everything in today’s cars. It sucks. I don’t think that there’s a car today made without one. In addition, if they do make one, I guarantee that they make it look as un fitting and ugly as possible so that people will upgrade to touchscreen options as soon as they discover how bad it is.

    The car industry is a mess and there seems to be no way around it in this country. I checked out sites in developing countrys. Although some of the cars look like they have been made in a barn, at least you have more of a choice.

    • Something people may have noticed, though the consumer cycle is being pushed so tight it’s not readily apparrent:
      The touch screens lose sensitivity and precision over time. Like work-hardening a piece of metal, where it eventually breaks? Same for those rare-earth materials in the touch screens.

      No one is willing to start the party – but we’re being controlled, coralled into a “morlocks and eloi” or Mad Max scenario. But as long as people have their creature comforts – their bread and circuses – no one’s willing to “risk” anything.

      Rome fell with the populace in the colloseum, watching the games. The barbarians didn’t disturb the Romans, they just looted and sacked the city…

      Imagine the reality of Mad Max: No gasoline (for the common people), global currency debased (valueless), no communications – but your iPod still works. You’re allowed freedom of movement – on foot. Retinal scans on every street corner still work, and the power grid is UP – but to shower breaks the budget…. Because Global Warming. And Usage Tax. And Consumption Tax. And Excise Tax. And Carbon Tax. And pay for the Smart Grid monitor’s usage of power, on your devices. And no radio (lock down communications). Not even a receiver, mind – we’re not talking transmitters…
      Every device has a built-in rechargeable battery (Global Warming, GPS in the device, spy camera, microphone, maybe even a built-in backscatter x-ray system to ensure no contraband).
      No cars (can’t afford them, can’t afford the fuel, couldn’t afford the mandatory insurance, carbon tax, excise taxes, luxury tax, parking fees, consumption tax, rubber tax, environmental impact fees, gas-guzzler taxes – for the ELECTRIC cars available, mind! – and the disposal fees at EOL are murder, a cost of 10X your yearly earnings, GROSS….)
      Cost of bicycles is simlar, though scaled – but you need insurance there, too.
      Motorcycles are, of course, motor vehicles – therefore fall under “cars” in cost of ownership.

      Meantime, ED-209, scaled up to use quad miniguns, “keeps the peace” through summary judgement (and execution) for any infraction, while security police (police, not guards) tend to crowd-control and the like (think the Elysium robot pigs)….
      Peaceful protestors get an ED-209. (Like playing a 33 1/3 record on a 45 spindle, mind –>) “You are in an illegal gathering, disperse or we open fire!” (Drowned out by the quad miniguns on each arm spinning up) and as of the “!” in the statement above, they start firing…. And the children in the playground behind the protestors turn to red mist and smears on the ground, but hey – they shouldn’t have been there, should’ve just complied, and they would’ve been fine (Riffing on the Robocop ED-209 that executes a child with a knife as a “threat”, only adding our likely progression…)

      Guns are outlawed, from spring-operated BB guns to actual firearms to air pistols (paintball) to squirt guns….

      Jobs have been “right-sized”, “offshored,” “outsourced,” and automated until the only legal things left are low-end jobs like store clerk, or fry cook…. Warehouse jobs are automated; driving is impossible, and the trucks drive themselves anyway. Law enforcement, due to “human accidents” and “human imperfections” and “mistakes”, has been automated; due to the “dangers” of guns, those jobs are done by remote systems, or robots (prevents theft of deadly “WMD’s” that guns can be… And the ammo)
      Stores sell things you can’t afford (Look at Zappo’s for the concept; $285 for a woman’s blouse? WTF?!!! Nothing special, mind – not even silk! Just a cotton blouse…. )
      And as noted, the retinal scans are going all the time – with automated billboards, as in “Minority Report,” “suggesting” (And programming via light beans, as is being done to rats already) you buy “The all-new Skinny jeans” (or whatever)…. And it’s on credit, there IS no hard currency (which by now means paper, forget coins with value)…

      Meantime, the true 1%ers and the Governing Classes live on “game preserves” of a sort (the rest of the country…. Lunch in Aspen, while managing The Company [Weyland-Butani] via a Skype session…. Drinking Champagne and eating Russian Caviar, except the caviar is inadequate, so it gets thrown away by the automated servants… And a grass-fed Bison Steak, fresh kileld to order, is provided – no matter “the little people” are surviving on “a single-celled protein, vitamin, mineral, and amino acid colloid” (http://matrix.wikia.com/wiki/Food, under “Real World”, on the Hovercraft)…

      As for the only place “people” are permitted to live, think Harlem, NYC – or Newark, NJ, circa mid 1970’s. Old, faded grafiti (Can’t be covered by new, nor removed – costs are prohibitive)… Cracked concrete buildings, like hi-rise bunkers (Judge Dredd style)…. Martial Law enforced by the autonomous “police” forces… “Luxuries” are available, though – iPods, computers, fancy clothes, etc. As noted, it’s bought on “credit” (Think the Life-Debt of Continuum, and you are charged for all necessities of life, possible including oxygen – a “Carbon Tax” for breathing and farting) – so you can be a flashy, well-dressed, anethetized (opioid-like effects of games and similar electronic stimulation) homosexual…. (heterosexuality has been outlawed and government indoctrination centers specifically preach homosexuality as “right” – “for the planet,” “Do your part to save the world!” …. It’s just been slow to get to critical mass. )

      And this WILL be a global phenomonon.

      50 years, maybe? Robotic police are expected in the next two years or so; self-drving cars, maybe five, depending – I’ve seen as soon as 2.
      Where is the wealth coming from? I don’t know…. I’m guessing it’s more like the “Star Trek” episode, “The Arena”… the wealth is artificial, there’s nothing being actually manufactured – energy production, resource extraction, manufacturing, transport, law, are all automated. And you need a degree (PhD) to operate the pump for the congealed single-celled protein mush… that’s what’s left of the Upper Middle Class, and that’s a good job, even at minimum wage…

      And i’ve come to believe “the people” will acquiesce to it, because the alternative (resistance. WAR!!!) is inconceivable to them…. there ARE no “3%ers,” they were either bred out, executed, or have been disarmed and are on medication to manage their “mental illnesses”…. the other likely “good job” is combat roles, a la “mechanized infantry” per the veterans in “Starship Troopers”…. Except, there ARE no vets…. they cost too much. No reason to invest in prosthetics or drugs, they’re tossed into an incinerator, living or dead….

      Purpose of course is to reduce the population, and ensure only the Elites (POTUS, SCOTUS, congress; financial elites like the top 1% of CEOs, although I’m anticipating a massive M&A period, similar to the process implied in “Alien” – Weyland-Butani is THE COMPANY, the ONLY company… It owns everything… though maybe it would be “W-B Finance,” “W-B Manufacturing,” “W-B Resource Management,” etc….
      what do the execs do? Same as now, “Make Decisions.” And then the machines carry out the tasks….

      Problem is, this is TRULY unsustainable, with “the beautiful people” (eloi) pushing papers and “being beautiful & famous” (a la Paris Hilton, “famous for being famous”)… While the Morlocks actually CANNOT act as they did in The Time Machine – limited technical abilities, the PhD for the food dispenser is lower than current Kindergarten for actual knowledge (and more than MIT degress, cost cubed!), and “the little people” are assessed a COST for being born… a “life debt” they can’t pay off, a la “company store.”

      But it could take a few hundred years to decay completely. We would likely be extinct, with those “beautiful people” and politicos being last to die out – think of the end of the British “hitchiker’s guide to the universe,” where the detritus from another planet becomes the human race – the leader of the group hasn’t left the bathtub in years….

      I dunno, am I too cynical…?

      Or just one of those depraved, mentally ill individuals who wants to be self-sufficient, and free? LIVE, not just ooze along from birth to death. (Which is the 9-5 grind anyway… Which for me, is 7:45 – 5, but who’s counting, right? And no lunch, mind. But only allowed to BILL for 8 hours. And today, just now – AFTER I wrote the above – I got reamed out for not responding to a 6 PM email from yesterday, where the @$$hole developer responded to a CONCURRENCY issue saying, “We can use those IDs to produce baskets for orders, NO PROBLEM!” Well NO F*CKING SH!T, TWAT! WE STATED THAT IN THE DEFECT! Tell me again who has mental issues? Me, the contractor, or the Boss, who is the employee – an Assistant Vice President, with a company blackberry, so HE gets the emails when they’re sent – But _I_ am supposed to respond to last night’s idiot’s email first thing in the morning, while doing my timesheet, and before we have the 8:15 daily 45 minute status meeting, which has the purpose of ensuring we are all interchangeable cogs [we’re not, India is f*cked just due to time and location even when they try their hardest]…. Because MANAGEMENT WILL THINK IT’S NOT A BLOCKING ISSUE….
      Maybe fucking management needs to have their heads surgically removed from their anal sphincter? Or maybe they should learn to fucking READ. Like 8South with the trailer issues, WTF is wrong with you imbeciles? Stop looking at the flashing lights and PRETENDING you have a clue! Broken axles don’t show in the OBD-2! Concurrency issues don’t claim the code doesn’t work, period! RTFM!!!!
      See why I cannot be a Libertarian? The IDIOTS are running the show, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, in a company that moves BILLIONS every day…. No WONDER we’re fucked from the get-go… their most useful role is FERTILIZER. And they’re not converting fast enough, courtesy of repealing Darwin’s Law.)

      It’s been a morning, people…. It was good until other people were involved….

  23. I do not consider this an improvement.

    I would either need to figure a way to get a radio in (including an antenna, since a radio would need that as well) or do without. It might help the aftermarket radio market fill in the need/want of the public.

    Do you think this has anything to do with CAFE? I do not think an antenna costs much in mpg, but I would not be surprised if CAFE is involved.)

    • Mith

      If you love the children, you will support CAFE……do it for the children. hahahaha

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all either.

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