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EAS Test Reveals Problems, Successes

Anecdotal reports tell of audio problems; what’s next as regulators pore over data?

Anecdotal reports to Radio World from station engineers report glitches with the national Emergency Alert System.

Some report nearly inaudible audio accompanying the alert tones, double audio, no audio (just the alert tones,) distorted audio or receiving the message late or not at all.

Here’s a clip WOR’s Tom Ray provided Radio World of the test audio on that station. “This is how we received it from WCBS, which got it from PEP station from WABC.” He says this is what both WCBS and WABC received.

He said the test sounded similar on Buckley’s stations in California and Connecticut.

Other engineers say there were no problems at their stations and that they were able to receive and pass along a clean test message.

The FCC and FEMA say they’re now collecting data about the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. They say it could take several weeks to get the full data from stations, which need to file that information to the FCC by Dec. 27.

An FCC spokeswoman said in a statement: “This initial test was the first time we have tested the reach and scope of this technology and additional improvements that should be made to the system as we move forward. Only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies can we ensure an effective and reliable national emergency alert and warning system.”

NAB EVP Communications Dennis Wharton said that initial feedback showed that “most radio and TV stations aired the test successfully, although some isolated glitches may have occurred.” NAB looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government “to diagnose and improve EAS” he added.

Indeed, what happens next is the topic of a blog entry by Damon Penn, FEMA Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs. He notes the test was “was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn’t and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward.”

FEMA’s seeking feedback about how the test worked and ways EAS can be improved at [email protected].