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Why The EAS System Might be a Big Waste of Time. AUDIO

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February 21, 2011
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There's been a lot of discussion about the upcoming test of the EAS (Emergency Alert System). President Obama is expected to test the system. The date of that test has not yet been announced. Some are calling it a political move by the President. Others are saying he's the President, let him test the system. Some radio station engineers are questioning whether or not this system is needed. If nothing else Radio excels in delivering local news, especially emergency community content.

Earlier this month WGN in Chicago was in the middle of a live report regarding hazardous weather when all of a sudden, that ear-piercing buzz and computerized female voice took control of the Radio station. When you hear the audio, you'll come to your own conclusion about whether or not government should be involved with something like this.

One Chicago broadcaster told Radio Ink this is a system without a mission statement.  EAS has no functionally except for crisis events such as severe weather.  Its a system without a mission statement.  Broadcasters carry emergency events  - its called news!  News people package events into news bulletins and stories day in and day out. Broadcasters dont need government bureaucrats taking over the stations audio for a poorly choreographed alert. 

(2/21/2011 3:24:37 PM)
Not all radio stations have news personnel or even any partnership with a news provider so without EAS those stations either aren't going to air any news, or worse, are going to go with rumors. It's not hard to override EAS and for stations without a news department or someone with a background in news, it is better than nothing at all, especially in a small community where there are few sources of information.

- Robert Jackson
(2/21/2011 2:18:26 PM)
It is entirely the station's own fault. They have of the option of setting their equipment to hold or ignore that type of alert. What about all of the stations that do not do news? Should their listeners be left oblivious to the fact that roads are closed? Most stations will get the alert and talk about it on the air without broadcasting the buzzaps, and that works great.

- Radar
(2/21/2011 12:55:47 PM)
To Kevin: the great North Dakota myth has been debunked repeatedly, yet obviously some still believe it. The truth is that the local emergency managers charged with activating the system didn't know how to do it and didn't contact the stations because they were relying on their own out-of-date phone book. If the government still believes that this is a necessary safeguard then the government should pay for the R&D AND the implementation of it; not simply mandate that others pay for a system that

- George
(2/21/2011 12:30:01 PM)
The system will certainly save lives IF it's allowed to do its job in the absence of people at a station! When I hear stations running basketball games while the automation plays music at the same time for two hours, I PRAY they have a good EAS box JUST in case anybody IS listening.

Per incident MANUAL overrides fix the problem of the system interrupting live emergency broadcasts.

Warnings should NEVER take a backseat to any other non-emergency related programming.

"Voluntary cooperation" is the LAST thing that should be allowed on stations, too. If a station doesn't want to serve the public interest, GIVE UP THE LICENSE!

The problem with NOAA freqs. is the problem with NOAA transmitters going down during an emergency, while their digital feeds stay up.

- John Van Pelt
(2/21/2011 12:04:12 PM)
I seem to remember the story of a city in North Dakota. The radio stations in town failed to activate the EAS when a train full of nasty chemicals derailed outside of town. Turns out, there were no human beings who knew what do. All the stations were automated. No local news, no local board ops, nothin'. Saved some money but didn't save any lives.

- Kevin Vance

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