Do You Drive A 2014-2017 Model Mazda In Seattle? Hope You Like Listening To NPR

File this one under "weird" thanks to a quirky infotainment glitch

2016 Mazda CX-5 — Mazda models in Seattle stuck on NPR station
The 2016 Mazda CX-5 (among other models) has a fussy infotainment system — ask me how I know. (Image: TFLcar)

“We didn’t mean to ruin your Mazda’s stereo”.

Sure, if you don’t own a Mazda with the first-gen MazdaConnect infotainment system, this story won’t affect you in the slightest. Nevertheless, it’s just downright bizarre, as certain Mazda models in Seattle, Washington are currently stuck on the local NPR station, KUOW 94.3 FM. And by “stuck”, I mean drivers can do nothing with their infotainment systems except pick up that one frequency.

The outlet reports local Mazdas as “permanently stuck” on that station — though no one currently seems to know why. According to Scott Smith, a 2016 Mazda CX-5 owner in the area, he is able to adjust the volume to which he can listen to the station, but that’s it. The MazdaConnect menu, for its part, cycles through menu options, but offers absolutely no adjustability for the radio or any of the built-in apps. So, if you own a Mazda in this vintage, that means no navigation, no Bluetooth, nothing — you’re just stuck until there’s a fix.

While the issue is fairly limited, it doesn’t just affect CX-5s. It likely affects Mazdas fitted with the first-generation MazdaConnect system between 2014 and 2017.

2016 Mazda CX-5 interior
(Image: Mazda)

Why is this happening?

At the moment, service managers at local Mazda dealerships can’t explain why some folks’ infotainment systems are stuck. Even if you try rebooting it (Side note: you can do that in Mazdas by holding the Back, Nav and volume knob for about 10 seconds), the problem persists. A replacement part may be available in a few weeks, says KUOW, but for now there is no immediate fix.

KUOW issued a statement on the situation, positing that a switchover to a 5G signal in the Seattle area may have caused the glitch. “Some car companies put out advisories to customers last year ahead of the switch that an issue like this could arise,” the station said. Older, 3G-equipped cars may glitch out, though this does not explain why it only seems to be happening to Mazdas in a certain age range.

In their statement, the station said it gave access to its transmitters to Xperi, the company that owns the technology behind the HD Radio signal, to investigate the problem. Mazda North American Operations, for its part, has not yet put out a statement on the matter.

Still, if you are a Mazda owner in the Seattle area and are experiencing this problem, you can put your two cents in over on Reddit. As for Smith, he just happens to be an NPR listener, so it (mostly) worked out. “I was one of hundreds, [the dealership’s service manager] said, of other people he let know that there was a problem.”

Hey, at least you’ll be a well-informed listener if you’re driving around Seattle right now — whether or not you want to be.