Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Letter: AM Radio Could Matter After a Nuclear Attack

"We are talking about thousands of square miles of the U.S. that will be suffering in unimaginable distress"

Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

The National Public Warning System was created during the Cold War. It was intended to allow the president to offer hope, encouragement and advice during the time frame where a Cold War was transitioning to a Nuclear Hot War. Just as with fallout shelters built during this time frame, there’s plenty of room for debate as to what degree these things could make a difference to survivability during a nuclear event. That said, communication, or it’s lack, is always a critical issue.

In the meanwhile, Conelrad evolved into EBS, and now the EAS. And there is no doubt that state, local and tribal authorities have used it to benefit the public in numerous ways. While actual user stories are rarely publicized, there are numerous members of the public that could testify to huddling around their radio with it being their only source of information and hope during floods and hurricanes. Let’s not forget those folks.

While this author is not an authority, I think many would agree that we are once again in a Cold War. Not with simply one adversary, but two or more. Even the smallest of these adversaries is on the cusp of the ability to attack with a nuclear weapon that could create a High-altitude-Electro-Magnetic-Pulse (HEMP). So once again the original mission of the NPWS is relevant.

Assuming the best-case for this worst-case HEMP scenario, we are talking about thousands of square miles of the U.S. that will be suffering in unimaginable distress with no electricity and certainly no cell phone service or internet access. Experts predict that significant numbers of small handheld radios may survive the electro-magnetic pulse event. Should they do so, they will be critical for hope, encouragement and advice.

Under these circumstances, the ability for a single AM transmitter and power generator to cover thousands of square miles is relevant. As I see it, either one takes the fatalistic view “who cares — each person for themselves” or one supports AM as the only relevant technology under these conditions. I challenge anyone to offer an sound alternative.

Let’s keep AM alive — it is uniquely qualified for the job at hand. Keeping it alive includes the entire “eco-system” including receivers in vehicles.

– Rolf Taylor, Rocket Engineering and Consulting

[Check Out More Letters at Radio World’s Reader’s Forum Section]