October 2017 Text-Only Printable PDF
 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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Florida City to Launch All-Creole Information Radio Station
North Miami Beach First to Utilize TIS to Transmit Safety Advisories to Non-English-Speaking Residents
NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FL: It turns out that certain subpopulations in South Florida prefer to take news and information by radio instead of via the Internet or social media. Case in point: at North Miami Beach, which has a Creole-speaking population exceeding 20%, the City is exploring repurposing their ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio Station to get critical information to those of Haitian origin and other residents who name Creole as their primary language. “We believe this station can be a critical tool to reach this critical audience,” states City Spokesman Brian Andrews. “They are often bypassed by conventional media.”
The temporary antenna location is on the roof of North Miami Beach City Hall.
North Miami Beach is in the process of changing the location and frequency of their radio station after Hurricane Irma’s devastation. New capabilities will allow it to broadcast farther and with more clarity due the addition of an audio processor and a file-based message player. The antenna is being relocated to City Hall to give it a higher profile.

“This is a great way to reach out to a special population,” adds Andrews. “Thanks to Information Station Specialists for their coordination with the FCC to make it all happen.”

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Fun Fotos from the Field
You gotta love this tongue-in-cheek ditty that someone posted online, promoting Missouri City, TX’s, Information Radio Station on AM 1690. You may find yourself tapping your toes … and scratching your head. This station was utilized during Hurricane Harvey for public safety information.
Perhaps this lizard likes the feel of radio energy coursing through his cold veins as he chills invertedly on an Information Radio antenna at Coral Springs, FL.  Photo by Tom Coviak
NPS & Eclipse
Fort Donelson National Battlefield’s Acting Chief of Heritage and Resource Education Paula Alexander reacts to a close-up view of the August total eclipse. The Battlefield, located near Dover, TN, worked with Information Station Specialists to provide special visitor information during the eclipse-viewing event.  Photo by Lauren Alexander
Ft Donelson staff
Fort Donelson staff adopts an “eclipse watching stance” during the August 21 event. Filtered glasses such as these were distributed to visitors at the National Battlefield, which was situated in the total-eclipse corridor. None of the staff
volunteered to be named in this caption. Hmmm.
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Starting from Ash
Gatlinburg Upgrades Warning Systems to Include Innovative Emergency Radio Stations, Warning Sirens & Special Signage.
Capt Joe Galentine Smoldering Fire Rubble
Fire Captain Joe Galentine explains that when winds roar at 80+ mph across tinder-dry ground, a wildfire can move so fast it may sever all escape routes and communications.  [Right] Gone in one evening were more than 2,500 buildings.
GATLINBURG, TN: The Smoky Mountains were aptly described 11 months ago when a wind-driven wildfire seared a community best known as a traditional family get-away. But the message from Gatlinburg public safety officials the night of November 28, 2016, was “get away now.”

The fire had been on officials’ radar for 5 days, smoldering in neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With little warning, winds clocked at 87 miles per hour began to topple trees into power poles, igniting secondary fires. Just as night fell on the 28th, the inland hurricane began to drive the flames across the drought-parched mountains and right to the outskirts of a city packed with Thanksgiving weekend guests. Officials began a massive evacuation that would total 14,000 residents and visitors.
Gatlinburg burning Gatlinburg aftermath
Originally thought to be contained by geography, five days later (on the night of November 28, 2016) a roaring inferno, fanned by hurricane-force winds, tore into Gatlinburg and parts of Sevier County, Tennessee. Photos by Joe Galentine    

TV Channel 10 News, WBIR, is running this video about Gatlinburg's new safety upgrades as a "Breaking Live Video" on its website.
The speed and ferocity of the firestorm overwhelmed Gatlinburg’s safety systems: Cellular towers overloaded. Fire fighters had issues with communications. 911 services were flooded; calls had to be rerouted to other counties. The Emergency Operation Center’s phone system lost power. Fire hydrants went dry when water pumping stations lost power or burned. Fire Chief Greg Miller requested assistance from Sevier County and eventually the call went out to the entire state of Tennessee.

Gone in one evening were more than 2,500 buildings in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to smoking foundations. Due to a super-human evacuation effort mounted by local officials, the loss of life was limited to 14.
Gatlinburg aftermath
One afternoon three months later, Information Station Specialists’ president Bill Baker received a phone call from a Gatlinburg man whose family had narrowly survived. The voice on the line described a surreal night. The caller had witnessed elderly neighbors crawling down a wooded hillside to escape the inferno; his wife and kids had crowded into a community swimming pool fully clothed. “If an emergency radio system is not proposed as a communication solution in this town, I will be speaking to city council myself,” he declared. Baker was able to assure the caller that his city officials were already in the planning stages to install just such a system.

The hope is, of course, that it will never happen again. But if there IS a “next time,” residents who are evacuating will have an Emergency Advisory Radio System to guide them to the proper escape route based on the fire’s location. They will be able to hear as issued over car radio verbalized emergency messages – the same ones that appear in text form on portable devices and PCs.

Three synchronized emergency radio stations are being installed that will provide total coverage to Gatlinburg and the Spur road that connects communities to the north. The signal will also be heard in parts of the National Park as well. The system of emergency radio stations is made possible by a recent FCC Report and Order that details how the Travelers Information Radio Service (TIS) can be leveraged in an emergency to protect life and property. The ruling clarifies that local safety officials have total authority to manage the content on the stations during times of crisis; and that networks of emergency stations can be set up to tailor coverage based on the needs of host communities.
Gatlinburg banner
This banner hangs at Gatlinburg’s fire headquarters.
Expansion of Gatlinburg’s network of stations into nearby communities, such as Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and others, is anticipated along with the addition of special advisory signage. Ultimately, this expansion will become a countywide communication tool under the command of the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency. The radio system will be integrated with 14 outdoor warning sirens and a text/email/phone notification system to provide a comprehensive means of alerting residents and visitors no matter where they are – on foot, in cars or at home.

TR6000 transmitter
i A.M. Radio / Talking House transmitter
Transmitter Prices Literally Dropping
Company Removes Middle Man, Lowers Prices
ZEELAND, MI:  It’s not a sale, according to Information Station Specialists. It’s the real deal – a “literal” price reduction.

In May, the company completed a transaction with Radio Systems, Inc., that allowed it to manufacture for the first time the Model TR.6000 HQ 5.0 TIS/HAR Transmitter at its facility in Michigan. With the elimination of a link in the sales chain, the unit’s suggested retail price has been reduced a healthy 25%, making it by far the most affordably priced unit of its kind on the market – at 15%-50% lower in price. TR.6000 remains the only such transmitter approved by the FCC for full 5000-Hz audio bandwidth operation, putting its audio quality on par with that of commercial-grade radio broadcasters’. The transmitter is the key component in the company’s licensed TIS/HAR and Free Radiate (Part 15) packages and can be used by information stations and standard broadcast stations alike as an emergency backup transmitter.

The acquisition included rights to manufacture and market a large stock of classic Talking House radio transmitters used in realty, commercial and hobby endeavors. The Talking House units require no FCC license to operate, as they bear the FCC Part 15 sticker. Information Station Specialists is reducing the price of the Talking House system a full 50% to $89.95, which includes freight in the continental US. The price reduction on both transmitters is effective November 1, 2017.
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PO Box 51, Zeeland, Michigan, USA, 49464-0051, Phone 616.772.2300, Fax 616.772.2966,
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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.