Emergency Alert System

All broadcast stations, including KXCR 90.7, carry regularly required tests as well as emergency messages as necessary. You will likely encounter EAS activations in the form of tests on KXCR.

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national warning system in the United States put into place in 1997, superseding the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) and the CONELRAD System. It will, in turn, eventually be superseded by iPAWS – the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

emergency-alert-system-presidential-alertIt is jointly coordinated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Weather Service (NWS). The official EAS is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to the United States within 10 minutes. The EAS regulations and standards are governed by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC. Each state and several territories have their own EAS plan.

The EAS covers AM, FM, as well as VHF, and UHF television including low-power stations. Digital television and cable providers, along with digital radio broadcasters have been required to participate in the EAS since December 31, 2006.

The FCC requires all broadcast stations to install and maintain EAS decoders and encoders at their control points. These decoders continuously monitor the signals from other nearby broadcast stations for EAS messages. For reliability, at least two other source stations must be monitored, one of which must be a designated local primary station.

In addition to the audio messages transmitted by radio stations, television stations must also transmit a visual message. A text “crawl” is displayed at the top of the screen that contains all of the information encoded in the initial header. A color coded “crawl” system is often used where the color signifies the priority of the message. Some television stations transmit only the visual message which is outside of the requirements.

All EAS equipment must be tested weekly. The required weekly test (RWT) consists of the header and the end-of-message SAME bursts. The RWT does not need an audio or graphic message announcing the test, although many stations will provide them as a courtesy to the listener or viewer. Television stations are not required to transmit a video message for weekly tests. RWTs are scheduled by the station, on random days and times, and are generally not relayed.

Required Monthly Tests (RMTs) are generally originated by the primary relay station or a State’s EAS agency, relayed by broadcast and cable stations. Some RMT’s are issued by the National Weather Service, sometimes for Statewide Severe Weather Drills.

Because the format of test messages closely resembles that of actual emergency messages, it is advised that you pay close attention to any EAS activations you hear on any broadcast station. Until you can confirm by listening or reading the EAS message that it is “only a test”, you should assume that the incoming information could be important to your safety, or that of others near you.