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Don’t Air EAS Tones Unless It’s a Real Alert

DJ prank at LP1 apparently trips EAS gear at another station in the market

It’s illegal to air the codes or attention signal of an EAS alert in a news story or for other purposes.

DJs from WIZM(FM) in La Crosse, Wis. — the LP1 for the market — aired the fake EAS “zombie” alert that went out on several stations this week, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

That, in turn, triggered the EAS gear for WKBT(TV), which automatically aired the alert, reports the Tribune, which attributes the incident to DJs joking around. Viewers heard the fake message and heard the DJs laughter, according to the account.

WIZM Station Manager Brian Michaels apologized to WKBT and said his station engineers were checking the EAS equipment and working to ensure there’s no repeat.

La Crosse County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Butler characterized the incident as a lesson learned for the on-air staff, a sentiment echoed by engineers on several EAS Listservs this week.

It’s not clear whether WIZM would be fined in this case.

The EAS encoders/decoders at several stations were affected by attempted hacks this week.