May 2018 Issue Text-Only Printable PDF
Case Studies | Newsletter Archive
 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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Hamvention Uses Info Radio Station to Counter Congestion
Amateurs used (of all things) radio to communicate with inbound event attendees.
XENIA, OH: Like a match made in – well, Xenia – Amateur Radio and Information Radio were on display at the same venue. The 2018 Amateur Radio “Hamvention,” that happened May 18-20 near Dayton, Ohio, utilized an Information Radio Station on AM 1620 as a new tool to push out traffic, parking and event details to attendees, as they approached the Greene County Fairgrounds.
Hamvention Crowd
Perhaps it’s good that Xenia’s name means “hospitality,” because the town braced to host an influx of nearly 30,000 “HAM” radio operators – roughly doubling its population for the weekend. Due to the web of two-lane roads that serves the venue – the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center - a shuttle-bus operation was set up to alleviate traffic congestion. Helping people understand the need to park at the special shuttle lots and to find them was a key goal of the new radio service.
Hamvention Map
Coverage of Hamventions Info Station on AM 1620 in Southern Ohio - click image to view
The Information Radio signal blanketed Xenia and 3-5 miles into surrounding Greene County, Ohio, directing approaching motorists to the five special park-and-ride facilities. Exhibiting vendor Information Station Specialists provided the service using its portable RadioSTAT product on display at the conference. The ARRL email joined in the day before Hamvention was to begin, promoting the 1620 service to their national audience. Company representatives were gratified by the number of participants who monitored the signal and enthusiastically stated their appreciation.
HAM operator
Portola Valley, CA's, Emergency Preparedness Committee's Mark Bercow (W6MSB) at Work
Last year was Xenia’s first experience with the event, and while largely positive, traffic and parking operations were not without hiccups the first day; and the weather did not cooperate much of the weekend. Even so, Hamvention 2017 had the second largest attendance in its 67-year history. This year, the event sponsor - Dayton Amateur Radio Association - and more than 500 local volunteers were committed to making things go even smoother.
Bill Tell
Mile High Radio Club's Bill Tell
"WINKY"
Gets a Thumbs-Up
Plans to Expand Its Emergency Service
"Across the Hill"
IDYLLWILD, CA: One of the country’s seminal Emergency Information Radio Stations is poised to expand. WNKI578, located in Idyllwild, California, has been on the air since the 1980s, providing residents and visitors with wildfire, earthquake and other hazard information. Its footprint may soon increase over the cluster of communities perched in the San Jacinto Mountains southwest of Palm Springs.
WINKY banner
Promoting their presence: the "WINKY" banner hangs over SR243 in downtown Idyllwild, CA.
The goal is to extend the station’s 1610 AM signal farther along Highway 74 to the south and Highway 243 to the north, according to Bill Tell, of the Mile High Radio Club which manages “WINKY.” The club inked an agreement in 2014 to run the operation for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District. Riverside County has recently pledged direct support for the radio station.
Idyllwild Logo
Tell comments, “I'm sure the fire season of 2017 had something to do with county funding. A large part should also be attributed to the Mile High Radio Club and their determined drive in making improved emergency communications within our community a top priority. Once funding becomes available, our priorities will be to continue with improvements to our primary station and then build out the synchronous stations one at a time. We’ve never backed down in our efforts in making our local officials aware of the importance of redundant communications.”

Read article in Idyllwild Town Crier.

See 2018 press release regarding the Cranston Fire.

See also 2014 case study about Idyllwild.
Tsunami Tsurprise!
Test Text Transmitted in Error
ALASKA, USA: What was supposed to be an internal test became a national embarrassment for NOAA’s National Tsunami Warning Center on Friday, May 11, when what sounded like a tsunami warning was broadcast over radio and TV stations in the 49th state. The result will likely be further tarnishing the EAS’s reputation, despite an immediate retraction and explanation posted on the Center’s facebook page, i.e., “No tsunami warnings issued for Alaska. There is no tsunami threat.”
EAS logo
Various radio and TV outlets took to the air independently to advise the public that there was no tsunami threat.

The transmitted text did have a disclaimer at the end identifying it as a test, but unfortunately that part of the message was truncated by the EAS due to the message’s length, which exceeded two minutes. Usually EAS tests are preceded with such a disclaimer for obvious reasons. The message’s test coding was also stripped, allowing it to be sent with a warning status to radio and TV statewide.

The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is investigating how it all happened.

This is the second time an EAS problem has cropped up in Alaska this year. The FCC is looking into why certain Alaskan broadcasters and wireless companies didn’t get a tsunami alert in January, when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck offshore in the Gulf of Alaska.

With a conference scheduled in Washington, DC, today (May 15) on the topic of emergency alerting, these serious missteps should provide some real-world examples for those seeking to improve the trustworthiness of the EAS.
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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.