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Insiders Discourage Rush to Judgment on Test Issues

‘While it is fun to speculate from the outside … it is a just that: fun idle chatter’

Among the questions being asked after last week’s EAS test is how dual header tones and extra audio were introduced and the test message audio subsequently degraded.

As RW reported, EAS equipment maker Digital Alert Systems said Monday that its analysis points to an equipment problem in a connection between the FEMA Operations Center and PEP radio station WCCO in Minneapolis. Neither station owner CBS nor FEMA has confirmed that detail to Radio World.

FEMA’s Manny Centeno this week told RW’s Leslie Stimson that FEMA was looking into how the extra header tones and audio were introduced into the system and would recreate the anomaly in its lab. He stressed that finger-pointing would not help fix EAS.

Another source tells RW that many stations that received both headers saw the WCCO call sign in their logs and noted that this information was posted to the Pubtech listserv by a station engineer shortly after the test.

“The exact mechanism by which this fed back into the FEMA distribution system is under review by FEMA,” the observer told RW. “While it is fun to speculate from the outside, though, it is a just that: fun idle chatter. What we need to hear from FEMA is that the specific case was fixed, and that the general case is known and corrections are being put into place.”

This person emphasized that WCCO “may have had nothing to do with the actual problem, and PEP stations put in thankless extra work as it is.”

One of the themes coming out of the test is lack of detail in Part 11 of the rules about how to handle anomalies. Each manufacturer handled things a bit differently last week.

Manufacturing insiders tell RW that makers of EAS equipment will need to address common handling of legacy EAS “edge conditions” so that improvements can be rolled into future releases of software.