February 2014 Issue  
 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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As ice and snow fall, the value of Information Radio Stations rises.
Winter Storms Hammer East & South; but Info Radio Stations Shine
Ice and Snow Fall; Info Value RisesACROSS THE USA: With hundreds of thousands of residents without power and safe transportation amid the perpetual parade of precipitation that has characterized the winter of 2014, those in communities with Information Radio Stations at least were not out of touch. Reports of stations that transmitted critical safety messages without interruption throughout the storms abound.

At Lexington/Fayette County, Kentucky, John Bobel stages broadcast messages that “will direct people to the emergency phone numbers for our two utility providers.” Those messages are quickly rotated into on-air playlists when power outages occur, as they have in recent days. Lexington also broadcasts webpages that allow people to report outages and see restoration times. See more on how Lexington/Fayette County uses its station.

In Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Second Assistant Chief Paul Haggerty used his station to get important information out to people about safety concerns such as residents’ requirement to expose fire hydrants on their properties. See why Haggerty says Lyndhurst purchased its station.

Nearby in North Plainfield, New Jersey, the Borough now operates its radio station on a natural gas-backup generator, so service is continuous despite outages that might occur. See article about how this radio system was used recently during Hurricane Sandy.

It was the 2003 Northeastern Power Outage that was directly responsible for many communities making the decision to install an Information Radio Service. Many of the stations operating in and near cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Newark trace their origins to that unfortunate event. The massive outage severed power to 55 million utility customers in the Midwest, Northeast and Canada. More than 25 suburban municipalities near Detroit and Cleveland utilize Information Radio stations to communicate with citizens in emergencies – due in part to the 2003 event.

A number of southern states are in the process of considering multiple portable Information Stations to deploy quickly to better communicate with motorists who might be trapped in vehicles during storms.
"This is way cool!"
New Jersey Information Station
Signal Monitored in Sweden
SECAUCUS, NJ: From time to time, nighttime “skywave” phenomenon allows AM radio signals – even ten-watt AM radio signals – to bounce around the globe.

Such was the case on the first of February when Torolf Johnsson went to his listening rig near Stockholm and picked up Hudson County’s Information Radio Signal emanating from Jersey City, New Jersey.
Skywave Illustration
Skywave propogation: Ground waves follow the curvature of the earth. Skywaves are reflected back to the earth due to cooling of the ionosphere at night. See more about skywave here.
Johnsson wrote James Woods of Hudson County Emergency Management to receive a written acknowledgment that it was really Hudson County's station he was picking up – and even sent an audio clip, so the reception could be verified.

Johnsson was clearly delighted by the unlikely event, stating gleefully, “I think this is way cool…. I used a long-wire antenna, 600 meters long, laying in the branches of trees. The antenna points directly toward the USA.”

Woods dryly responded, “It truly is amazing that we are experiencing some difficulties with this audio reaching portions of our county. Meanwhile we are reaching...Sweden.”

Although Hudson County is the smallest county in New Jersey, it is one of the most densely populated in United States. Jersey City is part of the New York metropolitan area.

More Letters to the Editor ... 
"We are live and operating RadioSTAT here in Portola Valley, and the reaction by the community is very positive. Our town manager now does the updates on his own! Big success here."

Ray Rathrock
Chair, Emergency Preparedness Committee
Portola Valley, CA
"Just a quick note that we are using our Info Radio Station [RadioSTAT] on 1640 kHz for the second year to broadcast information during the National High School Rodeo Finals (NHSRF). We use it with wonderful success to broadcast traffic information, emergency information and daily event schedules."

David M. Johnson
Sweetwater County Emergency Management Rock Springs, WY
Letters to the Editor    
Sign that It’s Time To Go;
Teen-Designed Signs Are On-Line
Flashing Signs Warn of Volcanic Action
"In 2006, as eighth graders, four young ladies became aware of the life threatening danger that a lahar from Mt. Rainer poses to the people of Pierce County, Washington. In 2007 while considering community problems that they could potentially solve, these girls became concerned about the lack of visibility of the current volcano emergency evacuation signs. During the brainstorming for a solution that followed, the girls developed the idea of adding lights to the existing signs. They then tested the idea. The results were profound. Flashing lights greatly increased the visibility of the signs. They then submitted their findings to a national science contest and the idea was selected as one of eight finalists.

"Over the past four years, with the encouragement of many adults, the girls have pursued a patent and continued to refine their idea. During this time it came to their attention that lahars are not the only natural disaster that necessitates warnings and escape routes. Tsunamis, hurricanes and flash floods also pose dangers to thousands of people around our great nation. Flashing lights have been proven to greatly enhance the visibility of any sign while also giving an almost instantaneous warning of imminent danger. With this in mind, they continued to pursue this potentially life-saving idea.

"Today we are excited to announce that Information Station Specialists has taken our concept and produced the first remotely activated flashing lights for retrofitting emergency signs. With the help of Jody Woodcock and Tom Sharp of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, three of these ‘kits’ have been installed near Orting, Washington [a town in harm’s way at the base of Mount Rainier.].

"It has always been our hope to help save lives in our community. It is now our hope that this idea will soon be used around the nation....

"Thank you,"

Alyssa Wolf, Hannah Zeitler, Sara Yazdi, Jordyn Wintersole and Sharon Gentry (coach)
Brooklake Christian School, WA

Brooklake Christian School, WA, Students

Read the original case study "L.O.S.T. 8th Graders Find Way to Notify Public in Emergencies," January 2012.
  See also "More Letters to the Editor (left).
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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.