The Source
Issue Date • January 2013
FCC Gets Earful from the Faithful
Sandy, Newtown Prompt Communities to Remind FCC of the Value of the Information Radio Service
Washington, DC: Coast to coast – and especially on the East Coast – communities have been contacting the FCC this winter to encourage them to do two things:
  1. Finalize the new FCC rules regarding Information Radio Stations (TIS).
  2. Make sure those rules expand a community’s ability to use the service to protect life and property.
Superstorm Sandy and the shooting tragedy at Newtown have reminded communities of the value of Information Radio and have renewed the resolve to solidify rules that govern the service.

The American Association of Information Radio Operators (AAIRO) has coalesced the communities’ correspondence and filed it ex parte in pending FCC Rulemaking Docket 09-19 to place it squarely before the commissioners in time for final consideration. See the filing. The docket contains comments and responses to the FCC’s current Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in which the Commission considers changing the rules for allowed broadcast content.

Though current Part 90 rules do allow the broadcast of emergency information on these stations during an emergency, the NPRM seeks clarification that safety information intended to mitigate the effects of disasters may be broadcast at any time – in advance of or after the emergency.

Writer Brooks Boliek of Politico on January 8, 2013, mentioned the effort in his story entitled "Emergency Responders Ask FCC to Expand Broadcasts." And AAIRO Board Member Jeff Braun of Fort Bend County, Texas, echoes the effort in his emergency management blog.

Your community can encourage the FCC to finalize the rules, using these linked letters as examples.

Submit your letter to AAIRO via this email link.

Back in the Day
Engineer Dick Burden shares with readers personal recollections about the beginnings of the Information Radio (TIS) Service.
Los Angeles, CA: Read about LAX Radio and the Origin of the Travelers Info Service.
Technician Tom Coviak
Project Manager Tom Coviak compares the size of traditional AM signal measurement equipment (left) with the new, smaller SMR Receiver (right).
A Needed Compliance Appliance
New Receiver Assures Operators that Their Stations Don’t Exceed FCC Signal Limits
Zeeland, MI: When your Information Station first went on the air, the installing technician set its signal level not exceed FCC limits.

But how do you know that the signal level has not drifted and still complies?

A new receiver allows you to know – for sure. The Signal Measurement Radio (SMR) Receiver pictured above is the first device of its kind capable of measuring and displaying AM signal levels with a useful level of precision.

Project Manager Tom Coviak offers this explanation: "The SMR Receiver provides a digital LCD readout that correlates reliably to scientific measurement equipment…for about one-hundredth the price." Further, Tom recommends, "It’s important to have a means of monitoring, not only to make sure your station complies with FCC limits but also so you can spot adverse changes in your signal that could point to equipment concerns within your station or its environment.”

Issues involving an antenna system, for example, are much less expensive to correct sooner than later, since they can affect electronic components downstream. Coviak advises, “Now every operator can afford such a receiver, and it should be part of the basic toolkit for their station.”

Information Station Specialists provides SMR Receivers with all new radio station packages; and they can be obtained separately, as well, for $143, including freight.

Email us to learn more.
That's an Attractive Idea!
Peabody, Massachusetts, Promotes Awareness of Emergency Information Service with Innovative Magnet Giveaway
Peabody, MA: How can you condition the public to use an Information Radio frequency, website or stream (QR) code in an emergency? The City of Peabody, MA, has a simple idea they think will “stick” – refrigerator magnets.

The simple 2" by 3" magnets promote the City’s Information Radio Station on AM 1640 and also give residents a QR code they can scan (and URL they can link to) to hear an internet simulcast of their emergency radio programming.

The parallel, internet-delivered method is especially useful when listeners are indoors or outside the radio coverage area.
Click picture for closeup.

Says Jim Morin, “In the most common emergencies, car radios still work and so do smartphones. People just remember that on their refrigerator is the info they need to access our stream of emergency programming.” Morin is also considering a variation of the idea that will attach to the auto windshield like a ‘oil change sticker.’ “This will be particularly helpful to remind a driver which frequency to tune to while he or she is behind the wheel.”

The magnets cost pennies apiece but might have a significant impact on the awareness of Peabody’s emergency information services – something Jim Morin is “positive” about.

Visit the HearMoreInfo webpage to learn more about streaming broadcasts.

Talk to The Source
Selected Reader Responses
“Good coverage of each of the subjects. Keep up the good work. Sad to know that LAX is dead due to lack of interest by the managers. A complete opposite in thinking to the Sandy folks.”

Frank P. Weed
Chief Radio Systems Manager,
National Park Service (Retired)



“Very Interesting articles. It’s good to know that radio is still relevant even though computers and smartphones are everywhere.”

Greg Yee
City of Seattle DOT