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FCC says nationwide Emergency Alert System tesk was pretty OK, will know more later

EAS logoAt 2 PM Eastern time this afternoon some percentage of US radio listeners and television viewers heard or saw the national EAS test. I was in the main studio of Northwestern University’s WNUR-FM (where I serve as advisor), and waited patiently for our EAS unit to receive the signal from WBBM-AM, triggering the alert to go out over our station at about 1:02 PM Central.

Damon Penn, a senior official with FEMA and Jamie Barnett, a senior official with the FCC released a joint statement about the test this afternoon, indicating that it was successful some places, not so successful other places. No stats have been released yet, so here’s what the FCC and FEMA say:

“The Nationwide EAS Test served the purpose for which it was intended – to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies. Based on preliminary data, media outlets in large portions of the country successfully received the test message, but wasn’t received by some viewers or listeners. We are currently in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and will reach a conclusion when that process is complete.”

The Commission does say that over 30,000 broadcasters and communication service providers participated in the test, so there is quite a bit of data to crunch. These participants will be sending their feedback to the FCC over the next few weeks.

Although it represented a bit of an inconvenience to broadcasters, I think the test was a good idea, since nothing of the sort has been performed since the modern EAS system went online fifteen years ago.

Providing vital information during national disasters and other emergencies in a crucial role for our broadcast media, especially radio. It is important that stations be able to quickly transmit emergency communications, and I hope that this national test provides guidance for clearing up any gaps in service.

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