Cris Alexander is director of engineering for Crawford Broadcasting and a contributor to Radio World. Here’s how the national test went for his company, a Christian broadcaster with 23 AM and FM stations in 10 markets.
What was Crawford’s technical experience during the national test?
For the most part, things worked as advertised. Our Sage 3644 Digital ENDEC units decoded the EAN header and automatically relayed the message.
In Denver, the ENDECs detected and relayed the header, two-tone and EOM, but none of the four relayed the audio — there was 30 seconds of silence while the displays indicated “No Audio Limit ABORT,” whatever that means. We had double-checked audio levels prior to the test and confirmed that they were in compliance with Sage Service Bulletin #1, and we also confirmed that the units were configured as instructed in Sage Service Bulletin #2.
Some industry observers have characterized the overall national test as a success, despite specific technical issues. How would you characterize it?
I certainly would not call it a success except in the sense that it successfully showed us where we have some problems to work through. As an example, from our own markets:
- Buffalo had no audio from the LP-1.
- Rochester, N.Y., went fine.
- Alabama didn’t go at all. Nobody got the test.
- Indiana worked fine.
- All of Illinois had the audio come over in Spanish. (!!!)
- Southern California worked but the audio message was very low.
- Detroit worked okay.
- Portland did not work at all. Nobody got the test.
- San Francisco went fine.
Several markets sent me their audio clips and the multiple, overlaid audio feeds were evident, almost exactly as described in Sage Service Bulletin #1.
What do you think the people responsible for EAS should do next, based on what happened yesterday?
First, the manufacturers who evidently had problems must aggressively deal with these issues and get fixes out to the stations quickly. Then we need another national test employing the EAN code in a few months, perhaps in April or May.