The abandonment of thermic engines is a mandatory goal to reduce CO2 emissions. The automotive industry is getting ready and among the aspects that are being discussed, there is also radio listening. On electric cars, HF interference is generated primarily by the frequency converter, a device that controls the amount of power delivered by the electric motor by turning the voltage on and off thousands of times per second. This generates signals that fall in the medium wave broadcast band: electrical noises (such as distortion and crackling) similar to those emitted by smartphones, TVs, computers, vacuum cleaners and hair dryers. In addition, static electricity, which creates crackles, increases with the power of the motors. So much so that some manufacturers, such as BMW, Mini, Tesla and Volkswagen have eliminated the AM band on their current cars. Others, like General Motors, are studying the problem, but the solution isn’t around the corner. Xperi Corporation, a leading digital radio company, whose HD Radio standard (a patent it owns) is used both in the FM and AM band, claims that its transmission system is not afraid of interference. And it presented test results at NAB Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology, the annual conference of American broadcasters. According to Pooja Nair, an engineer at Xperi Corporation, a fully digital AM signal resists interference much better than an analogue one.
Markus Weidner, an editor since 1999 of the telecommunications site teltarif.de, has published on his blog a report on the new car radios on display at the IAA Mobility in Munich, the fair that replaces the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show, overwhelmed (like the Geneva Motor Show) by the pandemic. According to Markus, after having integrated the car radio more and more into the car (making it difficult to replace with third-party products), car manufacturers are now limiting its functionality. In the most recent models, the receivers offer a list that integrates FM and DAB stations, updated in the background. The function is useful because it avoids searching and memorizing the station, which can be recalled (more and more often) with a voice command. Such an organized list is convenient for those who listen to the most powerful radio stations, but it limits the choice: if the signal is not strong enough or slightly interfered, or without RDS (in FM there are still some) it is completely ignored. Weidner suggests an expert mode that enables the old manual tuning in FM and DAB. Otherwise, this “rationalization”, prevents you from freely choosing the radio of your heart.
The success of an aggregator is not synonymous with completeness and updating of data. After TuneIn, the leading radio streams platform, which has been blocking the inclusion of new stations for years (and even changes take months), similar problems are affecting Radio.net. Markus Weidner, the editor of Teltarif.de, a telephony website, has been criticising the German-based portal, describing it as “embarrassing” and providing documented examples. On his personal blog, Markus begins by saying that the web radio database has always been incomplete compared to competitors such as TuneIn Radio and Airable. And for almost three months now everything has been at a standstill: it is impossible to make corrections or add stations. Officially, the problem is justified by the fact that changes are being made to the database and users are asked to be patient. Yet the portal is one of the most popular and appreciated in Germany and has more than twenty sister sites for different countries and markets, so much so that Volkswagen has chosen it as a platform for listening to online radio for its own cars and those of the brands it owns (Audi, Porsche, Seat and Skoda).