Radio World U.S. Editor in Chief Paul McLane checked in with Ralph Beaver, CEO of Media Alert LLC, recently named chairman of the new SBE EAS Education Committee. This is one in a series of Q&As with industry leaders about the state of EAS.
Radio World:Ralph, what’s the question you’re hearing most from radio engineers right now about EAS and CAP?
Ralph Beaver: The two basic questions are 1) When? and 2) How much?
RW: And what do you tell them?
Beaver: When? Now! It’s a roll of the dice to depend on the 180-day clock being delayed. Besides, we have known this was coming for some time now.
How much? That is an individual answer. Contact your providers, understand the pros and cons of different equipment choices. Explore your group buying options.
If you are only looking for minimum compliance, go for the low end. If you have heavy news commitments, go high end. Remember, this new system can supply your newsroom with other newsgathering resources.
Those are simply rules of thumb. Other considerations would include the age of your current equipment, how many stations are in your cluster and how you have structured your staff.
RW: As SBE notes on its website, there are an “almost innumerable list of issues” unresolved. How can stations responsibly know how to proceed, with so many questions unanswered?
Beaver: This falls under the category of “Whose problem is it?” If a broadcaster follows the rules, questions about what may be in the future of EAS do not really matter. Those things will be decided and we will educate our SBE members of the correct path to compliance.
RW: Who is on the new SBE EAS Education Committee?
Beaver: That committee is still being formed. The first person in line is David Priester, chair of our SBE Education Committee. Other experts in this topic and interested in furthering our education effort will be added.
RW: What are the most pressing questions or decisions by regulators or others that you’ll be watching for that might change the situation or affect how stations should proceed?
Beaver: We will be watching *all* pressing questions and decisions by regulator and others. We are also addressing questions and problems posed by our SBE membership.
RW: What’s the minimum stations need to do right now; and what’s the recommended action?
Beaver: As our SBE FAQ page indicates, “Stations should be prepared to incorporate emergency messages delivered by the CAP protocol into their EAS systems, logging and plans meaning that your EAS box should either be capable of receiving and reacting to CAP messages, or there should be some device that can be added to your current EAS boxes to inject messages delivered using CAP into it and the EAS Box should react appropriately.” More detailed information is available on the FAQ page on our SBE website at www.sbe.org.
RW: Anything else key that radio engineers should know right now?
Beaver: This is a game in progress. Stay tuned.