The Source
Issue Date • October 2012
Withstanding Sandy
Update: Information Radio Plays Key Role during Hurricane
Hurricane Sandy and Emergency AdvisoriesMANASQUAN, NJ: Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore south of this New Jersey coastal community on October 29. Ninety MPH winds pushed a wall of water into flood-prone Manasquan, causing massive flooding. Emergency Manager Chris Tucker tapped his Information Radio Station on AM 1620 to be the solitary source to keep residents apprised, with the anticipation that “data and internet connections might be compromised.” They were. Additionally, his station’s antenna system encountered enormous winds and was engulfed by 3 feet of storm surge. It kept working. The station’s battery backup – occasionally charged via generator – powered the station continuously through the storm.

Manasquan operates an ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio System with a hurricane wind rated antenna system, designed to withstand gusts of up to 150mph. Several Flashing ALERT Signs are positioned on local roads to alert motorists.

Eighty miles downshore near Sandy’s landfall, Police Chief Robert Matteucci of North Wildwood, NJ, utilized his 1640 signal to protect life and property. The signal remained on the air throughout the storm. The broadcast, which was simulcast to the Internet, advised residents how to find assistance and provided emergency numbers for electric and gas companies. The internet stream was monitored by more than 1000 people in nine states, some as far away as California. Internet listeners to North Wildwood’s stream logged more than 14,400 minutes the day Sandy made landfall.

Manasquan’s and North Wildwood’s Information Radio Stations comprise but 2 of more than 40 stations installed in NJ in the past 10 years to protect citizens' lives/property in a disaster.

At North Plainfield, NJ, operator Rich Phoenix comments, “Only radio stations and battery or crank-powered receivers will survive [during a disaster]. Local information is king; and the TIS stations are top of the heap.”

New Info Radio Rules Coming Soon?
WASHINGTON, DC: Counsel informed AAIRO (The American Association of Information Radio Operators) on Friday, October 5, 2012, that action on the AAIRO Petition for Rulemaking might come soon. The Petition asked the FCC to clarify broadcast content rules and certain technical requirements contained in FCC Rules Part 90 that govern the Information Station (TIS) service.

According to contacts in the FCC's Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, the draft Report & Order (R&O) will be ready for submission to the Chairman's office in early November. Assuming there are no revisions ordered by the Chairman, the Report & Order containing new Information Station rules will be presented to the five commissioners for voting soon thereafter.

If three of the five commissioners vote to approve, the new rules will likely take effect this winter.

Formed in 2008, AAIRO is a nonprofit organization of operators and licensees from public agencies who manage Information Radio Stations across the country to inform and protect motorists. Membership is free. Stay in touch with this quickly developing story by joining AAIRO.
A Streaming Success
Info Radio Stations Increasingly Simulcast on Internet
NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ: At the oceanfront community of North Wildwood, New Jersey, Police Chief Robert Matteucci depended upon his station to keep residents current during Hurricane Sandy. Matteucci comments, “Streaming allows people who live out of reach of the radio station to listen…at home or on handheld options. We feel that during a storm, people in fringe areas will have a clearer message over the computer than over the air. Additionally, [out-of-town] family members can check local conditions.” (See "Withstanding Sandy" article, left.)

The Houston area community of Missouri City, Texas, made their 1690 kHz Information Radio programming available online recently, as well as, on their municipal cable TV outlet during emergencies. Emergency Manager Robert Bracken states, “We are heavily promoting it through news releases, our TV channel and our homeowner association outreach.”

See how three communities present Information Radio on their websites: And the surrounding county of Fort Bend, will soon be online with a stream of their 1670 kHz signal, as well.

Visit the HearMoreInfo/streamcast Service webpage.
Radio Crosses the Line
DHS/CBP Adds More Info Radio Stations at US/Mexican Ports of Entry
Borders Use Travelers Information StationsWashington, DC: US Customs and Border Protection this summer added two more information radio stations (TIS) to their network of stations along the US/Mexican border. The new stations went on line in September at ports of entry in Brownsville and the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso, Texas.

This new pair of stations joins four radio stations at Laredo and El Paso, Texas; Calexico, California; and San Luis, Arizona, installed previously by provider Information Station Specialists. These six stations form the nation's first network of information radio stations controlled by a federal agency in Washington, DC.

The system has the capability of broadcasting time-sensitive messages developed at the local ports of entry in addition to messages developed at the national level by CBP headquarters.

"The goal of the radio broadcasts is to communicate important border-crossing information to members of the traveling public who are in the vicinity of the ports of entry," says El Paso Port Director Hector Mancha. Mancha oversees the broadcasts, which are on AM 530 at the Ysleta crossing and AM 1620 frequency at the Bridge of the Americas. "From one end of the radio dial to the other, CBP El Paso is now broadcasting vital travel information 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Results of a pilot survey conducted by CBP at El Paso indicate considerable awareness and favorability regarding use of the radio stations and agreement that they would be especially valuable as a tool to gauge wait times.

CBP will be able to communicate directly to travelers about how to expedite their border crossing, for example, by broadcasting information about CBP programs such as the Ready Lane — an expedited travel lane for people with radio frequency identification technology enabled cards -- and Trusted Traveler lanes for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.