Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was only a test but for many people across the state, they didn’t hear anything during the nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.
The idea was to test that EAS because the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants the president to be able to address the nation immediately in case of a terrorist attack or other disaster.
But the test found that the system still needs work because the “hearing” portion of the EAS test never happened for some.
“Apparently there have been issues and we’re hearing about them on a nationwide basis,” said Jim du Bois with the Minnesota Broadcasters Association. “Some states are reporting that they received distorted audio, no audio at all. We’re not hearing about a lot of stations at this point that actually did not receive the test itself.”
WCCO-AM radio is a main distributor of the Emergency Alert System signal for radio stations in our area.
“It’s a daisy chain, basically. What happens is FEMA sends out the test to what are called the primary entry point radio stations, and they then distribute the test to other stations that monitor them,” du Bois said.
WCCO-TV did not get the audio from the test. And whether you get an alert on radio or TV, the audio is the most important component.
“And if there is a national type of emergency, maybe some type of terrorist incident, some type of big earthquake, like a new Madrid-type earthquake, and a lot of the systems are down, that EAS system is going to be critical to get information to the public,” said Doug Neville with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
The current Emergency Alert System includes over-the-air AM and FM radio, broadcast and cable TV, as well as satellite radio and television.
As Tuesday’s problems are resolved, the federal government is also working on including new ways to get warnings to people.
“In the next few years it will be commonplace for you to get emergency alerts via text message. There will also be a Facebook presence, utilization of social media like twitter,” said du Bois.
The test was supposed to run for 30 seconds, but while some stations heard nothing at all, others heard double or triple audio. Some people said they even heard a Lady Gaga song and some stations were just stuck on a test graphic for as long as four minutes.
The Department of Homeland Security is reaching out to viewers to find out what they heard. They are asking Minnesotans to take a very short survey to describe what they saw or heard during the test.
If you want to participate, click on the link below. They would love to hear from you so they can pinpoint the problem and figure this out.