The FCC, FEMA and NOAA are going to be conducting a nationwide test of the EAS system, November 9th, 2011. Mainly to be sure, that it works, as a national test has never never been done. While states have done local tests on a weekly and monthly basis, no one is sure if an alert on a national scale was to go out, that it would 100% work.
So on November 9th, at around 2pm, someone, somewhere at the FCC or FEMA or NOAA, will push the activate button, and TVs and radio stations across the US will play the familiar tones we all know, when we hear an alert for a storm warning or some other event. Some of the differences will be that on TVs, you may see a background image on the screen as the scrolling text goes by, telling you this is all just a test. Some may not see the background image. Also the test will last for 3 minutes, as compared to 2 minutes for all others. The main reason is to make sure the code is getting to everyone to activate. So you could see a few systems slow on the catch up. Think of it like dominoes.
Now from my experience with the EAS system, working in broadcasting, sometimes the recording length on the Endec device that radio stations use, are only set for 2 minutes to record the audio. I don’t know if this will override all that and go live as soon as it hears the codes come across, or if the units will record the audio allowing manned studios to replay the alert in a break of the programming. I think there was only 1 or 2 times that we broking into programming to play an alert. Most of the time, it was at a scheduled pause in the programming.
But either way, this should be an event to see. The whole system tested at once. I wish the guys conducting the test good luck that this system works, and I hope we’ll never have to use it either.
Rich also writes a Tech blog and posts stories every Tuesday and Thursday on Q103, Albany’s #1 Rock Station website, as well as Amateur Radio stories every Monday thru Friday on AmiZed Studios and hosts a podcast called The Kim & Rich Show with his fiance’ Kim Dunne