The Source
  Issue Date • December 2015 Print this newsletter.
TIS Beauty Competition
Could Arches National Park boast "most lovely info station location" in America?
VP9000 Antenna in situ 
MOAB, UT:  In November, the National Park Service installed an Information Station (TIS) for visitors near the entrance to Arches National Park in Utah, which has a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop. Surrounded by sage and surreal canyon lands, The Source asks if this might just be the “most awesome” setting for a TIS antenna anywhere in the 50 states? Do you have a shot you can put up against this one? Send photos to The Source, so we can show off the fair side of your facility. We will publish them in an upcoming edition.

Now, for the talent part of the competition, you will have to turn on your radio!
Antenna in situ 
Dwarfed by Utah's sprawling canyon lands, Arches' antenna location is circled at lower left. 
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Short (on) Waves?
Information radio frequencies continue to be available almost everywhere.
Bay Area Map
Information Radio Stations in the Bay Area
NEW YORK, NY:  There are very few places on the US map where there just are not any information radio frequencies left. After nearly 40 years of TIS licensing activity and a rather full AM band to begin with, that’s actually pretty surprising.

“Tight spots are mainly in and around our three largest cities – greater Los Angeles, Chicago and New York - where acceptable channels are tougher to find and license,” states Information Station Specialists’ representative Bill Baker. “But if you plotted all of those zones on a US map, they would be so small that you’d be hard pressed to spot them.”

Despite the unlikelihood, if an applicant finds himself in one of those spots, determining a good frequency to apply for can be a challenge without professional help. The FCC has allowed some agencies to apply for the 1710 AM frequency − which is outside the normal AM band − if they could make a showing that all other AM channels failed to meet the separation parameters in Part 90 of the Commission’s rules. Recalls Baker, “One local government agency we are aware of applied for seven different frequencies until an adequate one was found. Thankfully, that's the exception and not the rule!"



VoiceStar with Lit Sign
Safety agencies disseminate instant incident information.
New public information tool has support of emergency and event management, public health, law enforcement and highway safety.
ZEELAND, MI:  Agencies from coast to coast are acquiring a novel communication tool in an effort to prepare for incidents and keep the public better informed during one. Newly designed “VoiceStar” Systems consist of a Portable Changeable Message Sign (PCMS) paired with an onboard Information Radio Station. The operator gains the ability to speak directly to motorists both visually and verbally in virtually any venue. From King County, WA to Oakland County, MI, to Westchester County, NY, numerous agencies whose missions are public safety, voted VoiceStar into their communication arsenals in 2015.

Departments of Transportation have long used Portable Changeable Message Signs – some with radio stations onboard – to talk to motorists approaching highway construction zones. But VoiceStar additionally gives Highway Safety officials the unique ability to reach drivers entering a state with updated information about safety regulations, potential penalties and even a heads-up regarding security situations they may encounter. Because VoiceStar is quite portable, the service can be moved as needed to different thoroughfares. See VoiceStar's webpage. (continued below)
VoiceStar in situ 
Ventura County's VoiceStar informs motorists on their commutes.
Says Steve Johnston of Ventura County, CA, “While its utility in disaster response is self-evident, it provides a valuable component to exercises, vaccine clinics and whenever we need to communicate information.

Theodore Quisenberry of Oakland County, Michigan's, Homeland Security Division comments, "The VoiceStar would also be used to provide shelter, point of distribution, point of dispensing, evacuation and emergency action messaging to the public for incidents where this information is a necessary part of the public information stream." Oakland County also "pre-deploys [the] VoiceStar unit to special events to provide event messaging, such as, traffic routing, parking, shuttle locations, etc."
VoiceStar Training 
Casey Inoue leads a recent VoiceStar training session.
The VoiceStar product has recently been upgraded by Information Station Specialists to include browser-based control of both the sign text and the broadcast message; an enlarged battery pack and solar array to support independent operation for two to three weeks; multi-media operator training with optional on-site training.
VoiceStar Side View
 The design allows the VoiceStar to be deployed at the scene of an incident and operated/updated remotely from a portable device or desktop PC whenever required. Versions are available minus the Changeable Message Sign or minus the information radio station.
Various VoiceStar Operators
VoiceStar with Changeable Message Sign
  • Alabama Department of Transportation
  • Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department
  • De Baca County, NM
  • King County, WA
  • Oakland County, MI
  • Pierce County, WA
  • Robert Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center, KS
  • Snoqualmie County, WA
  • South Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Ventura County, CA
  • Washoe County, NV
  • Westchester County, NY
  • West Virginia University
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY

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When is interference not really interference?
The FCC's proposed AM rules might aid Hudson County's power petition.
Interference Map 
Fringe signals (blue & purple above) of many broadcast stations would not receive protection under proposed FCC rules.
Image courtesy of Radio-Locator
(Theodric Technologies LLC)
WASHINGTON, DC:  On October 23rd, the FCC released a Report & Order that proposes a change in how most AM broadcast stations* are “protected” from interference. No longer would stations’ fringe signal areas receive protection. These new standards would set the stage for some AM broadcasters to apply to increase their power levels to better cover their communities without fear of interfering with neighboring radio stations.

Should these rules take effect, it might help the case for the Hudson County, NJ, information radio station’s proposed power increase. The County has asked the FCC to allow it to operate at 100 watts rather than the standard 10 watts, but by doing so, the Hudson station’s signal would overlap with the fringe coverage of a nearby broadcaster on an adjacent frequency. The proposed new rules would deem that the overlap would not matter, admitting that any interference that could potentially occur would only be present in areas where listening is not possible anyway due to low signals engulfed in ambient noise.

(*) Conventional full-power broadcasters, not information radio stations (TIS).