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L.A. Stations Broadcast National EAS Test in Spanish

“Esto es solo una prueba”

“Esto es solo una prueba.”

That’s how the phrase “This is only a test” sounded on two stations in Los Angeles last week. They used the Spanish-language version of FEMA’s National EAS test message.

Spanish Broadcasting System’s KLAX(FM) and KXOL(FM) enabled the Spanish preference setting on their Sage ENDEC EAS units to make it possible, according to a station official. 

Mike Tosch, director of engineering for SBS in Los Angeles, says carrying the multilingual message was a great opportunity for radio stations that broadcast in Spanish to serve their audiences.

“In Los Angeles County alone, the Hispanic/Latino population is 4.8 million or 49% of all people, according to the 2020 Census. Spanish Broadcasting System operates radio and television stations in Spanish around the continental U.S., including Los Angeles. It was only natural for us to broadcast emergency messages and tests in Spanish, the primary language of our audience,” Tosch said. 

“It is important to disseminate emergency messages fast and for them to be immediately understandable by listeners.”

Tosch said he hopes FEMA will continue with further development of the capability. “We only did this setup on the SBS L.A. stations, but will now set up all of our SBS station’s Sage ENDEC EAS units with the language preference,” he said.

The log of the radio stations’ Sage units included the Spanish text of the message for TV stations to use on a crawl, Tosch says. 

In 2016, FEMA, working with Entravision, initially tested sending regional EAS test messages containing both an English- and Spanish-language <Info> block leading up to the IPAWS CAP-based national EAS test that year. It was the first national EAS test that had both English and Spanish content available for selection by individual EAS participants.

Richard Rudman, California SECC chair, took note of the Spanish test in L.A. last week and said IPAWS and CAP messaging make it easier for Spanish-language stations to serve their audiences. “Glad to hear that KLAX and KXOL are leading the way on this,” Rudman wrote in an email exchange with Tosch.  

The FCC recently has sought to diversify delivery of emergency alerts to guarantee greater accessibility for non-English speakers and those with disabilities. Much of its attention has been focused on multilingual alerting via the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. In fact, last week’s message displayed in English or Spanish, depending on the phone’s set language, according to the FCC. 

[Related: “State Broadcasters Paint Picture of Successful EAS Test“]