December 2012  
Newsletter Archive  Publisher:  Information Station Specialists Subscribe to The Source
Putting Out Fires
Information Stations Invaluable in California Wildfire Evacuations
BSANTA BARBARA, CA: Two significant wildfires in three weeks near Santa Barbara, California, have tested the area’s Information Radio Stations’ ability to direct the public quickly out of harm’s way.

California Wildfire and Travelers Information StationsOn October 17th, a vegetation fire caused by downed power lines required the evacuation of Painted Cave, CA – a community that lost more than 400 homes and public buildings in a devastating fire in 1990. The nearby San Marcos Pass Information Station on AM 1040, operated by Mike Williams, broadcast critical fire and evacuation information continuously for residents as they lined up on Highway 154 to exit. In the end, all lives and structures were saved and the fire was contained to 44 acres.

Three weeks later, a similar fire in Montecito, California's, backcountry triggered emergency evacuation information to be broadcast on Montecito Fire Protection District’s Information Station on AM 1610. The San Marcos Pass station carried the evacuation information, as well. Fortunately, this fire was contained by late afternoon and residents returned to intact homes.

States Williams, “The use of low power radio in emergency situations proves invaluable. The ability to provide quick information to the public is essential during fast moving events such as wildfires.”

See a San Marcos pass Emergency Radio System overview.
Chilling When It Counts
PowerSTAT Units Kept Vaccine Refrigerators Humming During Outages
Portable Power Source Pure Clean EnergyThe PowerSTAT portable power product in production 2011-17 completed a series of tests that indicated it presented opportunities for Health Departments who wanted to maintain operation of vaccine refrigerators when grid power went down.

Research showed that a 4.5 cubic-foot fridge would run 72 hours on PowerSTAT’s internal batteries. The run-time could be multiplied 4X by the addition of outboard batteries.

PowerSTAT units shipped to local health departments beginning in 2012, according to Information Station Specialists president Bill Baker. “It was popular with health departments because it was quiet and did not rely on fossil fuel, so it could be used indoors – unlike a conventional generator,” stated Baker. “You kept the refrigerator plugged into it all the time, and when power dropped, it was already online. Since it was on wheels, you could take it to remote Points of Dispensing (PODS) as well.”

Communities that operate Information Radio Stations also employed the technology. Sweetwater County, Wyoming, operates three PowerSTAT units that serve as the main power sources for the County’s three portable Information Radio Stations when they are deployed. Operators with fixed stations employed the unit as an “uninterruptable power supply” to allow broadcasting to continue automatically if power was cut.

PowerSTAT was introduced by Information Station Specialists in 2011 and discontinued in 2017. It was a pure sine-wave AC inverter plus high capacity charger with hefty battery pack, all packaged in a weather-resistant portable case. It could be charged at any standard 120-volt AC power outlet. And provided pure, clean, energy, quietly. It was approved for indoor use and could stand alone or be employed as a power source for the RadioSTAT Portable Emergency Advisory Radio Station.
LA Lacks LAX Radio
Nation's First Information Station Goes Silent
Word is that Los Angeles LAX Airport’s oversized AM 530 signal that has blanketed the LA basin since anyone can remember … is silent.

Is the nation’s premier Information Radio Station really DOA? Or is it just AWOL?

"The Source" reached out to Dick Burden, the station’s original consultant/designer to get the story. Burden stated that the airport’s contract with a local vendor to manage the station lapsed in 2011 and that “the Airport appeared to be no longer willing to bear the expense of operation.”

The LAX station and its high efficiency antenna operated with a special FCC waiver that allowed it to broadcast at 100 watts instead of the conventional 10 watts. Due to the long wavelength of the 530 frequency, the signal could be monitored more than 30 miles away.

Muses Burden, “It’s sad to hear that this installation, which gave birth to the Travelers Information Service as we know it today, and established the original 530 and 1610 frequencies as TIS frequencies, is no longer interested in the public service it has offered to travelers using the Airport for the past 40 years.”

RIP, LAX 530.
Talk to The Source
Selected Reader Responses
'AM' azing
After reading what you attached, I was amazed at the progress that has been made since I started working with your company back in the 90's while I was in Naperville [IL]. I remember we started with the one transmitter and then added two more and hooked them together using satellite connections so that the signal covered the 50 square miles of the city. Reading what technology has been added and the different platforms associated with the programs really provides a great emergency management tool to keep residents informed. It has come a long way in the past several years. Hopefully the rules will change for the better so that these stations can be used more in emergencies. Would be nice if more agencies here in Florida would use it since we get hurricanes annually and power is lost, a car radio or portable radio keeps you informed. Thanks for keeping me informed. Bill Reynolds, Former Naperville, IL, EM Coordinator

Relevant for Non-Radio Folks Too
I signed up for the free regular newsletter. For me, it is all about the practical application of the technology. The piece on Sandy was good. Looks like you guys know how to communicate with us non-radio people as well. Looking forward to receiving next update. Nicholas J. Child, Deputy Director, Grafton Emergency Management Agency, MA

Info Radio Can Speak when Computers Can't
One point which must be driven home about the Information Radio stations: There is lots of idiocy and ignorance out there regarding the saturation and accessibility of the new media – computers, iPhones, “Smart”phones, etc. So many responsible agencies act as if the Internet and all associated peripherals will survive a major natural disaster – NO WAY. They will shrivel and die just like in a William Castle horror movie! Only radio stations and battery or crank-powered receivers will survive to play whatever is delivered over the air. The stations in question can be 50-kilowatt powerhouses or a 10-watt flamethrower like our station. In either case, information – local information that is – is king and Information Radio Stations are the top of the heap. Richard K. Phoenix, Chief Operator WPQJ970, Borough Clerk, North Plainfield, NJ

Never Thought of Streaming
Liked the newsletter .... Never thought about streaming info radio over the net.
Rosann Fillmore, US Forest Service, Manti LaSal National Forest, UT

Helping Survivors
I've been very busy lately [and] saw the newsletter...wonderful job helping disaster survivors with great emergency Comms in NJ. Thanks for all you do.
Cathy Dempsey, FEMA Disaster Generalist

Two Storms in Two Years Is Too Much
I can tell you this ... I will be making a BIG campaign to my town hall officials and residents why we need the [Information Radio streaming] product. I am not expecting any opposition. Two storms in two years....with a large elderly population ... I will use these two topics along with topics that will support the purchase and use of the equipment. Thanks! Don Izzo, Director, Westbrook Emergency Management, CT

Sandy Proved a Point
... Hurricane Sandy was on and knocked out phones/cell phones/internet -- I believe the whole government of Bound Brook and OEM is convinced that we need an AM station. Thanks. Carey Pilato, Mayor, Bound Brook, NJ
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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.