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Plan Your ALERT AM  System
Travelers Information Station Frequency Map

Below are things to consider in setting up an ALERT AM service in your area. Feel free to email us for personal planning assistance (or call Bill Baker at 616.772.2300 Ext 102). We have a network of representatives across the country; and, after initial brainstorming, we can put you in touch with one in your area who can visit your site(s), help test frequencies and find the best antenna location(s) — even install the system — whatever is needed.
Step 1:  Choose a general location for coverage.
On a local map, find the approximate geographic center of the listening area you want to cover. The ALERT AM signal will propagate to a radius of 3-5 miles (25-75 square miles) from this point in all directions. If this coverage does not encompass the desired listening area, consult us regarding adding synchronized transmitters or portable transmitters for your system. See the Signal Penetration webpage, regarding in-home/in-vehicle listening parameters.
Step 2:  Determine National Weather Service reception.
Verify reception of a National Weather Service channel (162.400-162.550 MHz) at the desired location. You can see coverage areas online at this NOAA web link.
Step 3:  Choose a specific antenna location.
Unless multiple stations are required, select a specific building or property near the geographic center for antenna installation. Consult with us on the proposed location, before the decision is finalized. We offer the following antenna installation styles:

Yard Style Installation (most popular)
The equipment is in a building with the antenna/groundplane system in an adjacent yard. Advantage: high security. Example: yard-style drawing.

Isolated Style Installation
The equipment and antenna/groundplane system are on a pole, if there is no building. Advantage: high flexibility of location. Example: Isolated-style drawing.

Requirements for yard and isolated styles: There should be no underground obstacles or structures taller than 25 feet in the immediate vicinity of the antenna and at least a 40x40-foot area of open ground for pole and groundplane installation. Make certain 120 volts of AC power and telephone service or, if remote control via a network is desired, that network service is also available.

Note:  We do not recommend installing antennas on rooftops or within 50 feet of buildings that contain electronics because of the potential for interference.

VP9000TM Vertical Profile Antenna System (an option for either yard or isolated style)
If ground space is at a premium, choose the optional Vertical Profile Antenna System (VP9000). Because no groundplane is required, only one square foot of open-ground area is needed. All wiring is inside the pole. The VP9000 is aesthetically pleasing, highly secure, and is the only antenna solution that meets hurricane wind standards in all parts of the United States.

Requirements: pole placement 50+ feet from a building in grass, dirt or paved areas; no objects taller than 25 feet in close proximity; coaxial cable may be buried or strung overhead to the support pole; pole is set in 6’ post hole with good earth contact in the lowest 4’ of the hole. (When used on AM frequencies below 1000 kHz, a 20’ solid groundrod is driven beside the pole.) Concrete, asphalt or tamped dirt may surround the pole to 2" below grade to stabilize it. Examples:

An optional 2X Signal BoosterTM offers up to double the efficiency/range of the station’s antenna, allowing the transmitter to run at less wattage or allowing the signal to have twice the signal intensity at a given distance. It functions with upper-band (typ:1610-1700) antennas only and is recommended for federal government agencies that do not have a signal intensity limitation; also for any operator in a challenging environment that requires maximum signal intensity to cut through woods, buildings and obstructions. (Note: local government licensees must seek a waiver of FCC rules governing these types of stations to allow a signal intensity above the standard 2.0 mV/m limitation.)

Step 4:  Conduct a frequency search.
We will provide a menu of AM frequencies that meet FCC separation standards from which to select. We'll even give you our seasoned recommendation with suggestions and instructions on how to test them ahead of time! Make your choice, and we will prepare and submit to the FCC the application on your behalf, immediately.
Step 5:  Apply for a FCC license.
Complete and return to us via email or regular post a simple License Application Questionnaire (download a single station form or multi-station grouping form), so we may secure your operating license from the FCC in a timely manner. The questionnaire requests basic contact information and details about the proposed antenna location and frequency chosen for broadcast, with which we can also assist you. When we receive your completed questionnaire, we will prepare the necessary engineering work and submit your formal application to the FCC for approval, which often takes a few months. As part of an overall license package, we will handle any additional filings you may require to get up and running, such as temporary licenses, minor adjustments and the required FCC notification that your station has been built.
 
Note 1:  Because FCC processing time is unpredictable, we recommend you request licensing and other FCC documentation services as soon as you know for sure you will have a station − definitely no later than when you place your radio equipment order.
 
Note 2:  The FCC considers 10-year, renewable licenses for information radio stations secondary to full-power broadcast stations. This means, that in a rare situation in which a full-power station might move into a given area, an Information Radio station already in that vicinity might need to change frequency. We can assist.
Step 6:  Consider options you require.
Consider 4-day battery backup option to keep the station on the air during loss of AC power. If the station is in an unattended location, consider getting a Power Loss Notification Module.
 
If you need more coverage than one station can provide (a 3-5 mile radius from the antenna, approximately 28-78 square miles), ask us about the GPS Frequency Stabilization option. ALERT AM synchronization works well with leased land lines, fiber or wireless audio control. The Vertical Profile Antenna System is ANSI/TIA rated to withstand hurricane-force winds as well as for essential communications in critical areas where failure of a structure could damage buildings or present a hazard to life. The 2x Signal Booster offers up to double the efficiency/range of the station’s existing antenna.
 
Consider including an optional Signal Measurement Radio ReceiverTM that allows you to measure the radio station’s signal intensity and to verify compliance with FCC rules.
 
If you want to notify motorists that critical messages are being broadcast, ask about the Flashing ALERTTM Sign System, which can be triggered via your community's or agency's own existing 2-way radio systems.
 
If you want to control your system "drag and drop" style via a computer interface, yet retain the ability to have override control via telephone in an emergency, consider Workstation Audio ControlTM. This option also provides virtually an unlimited number of messages and recording time, ideal for creating a large library of contingency messages. And you can stream broadcasts via HearMoreInfoSM StreamCastsSM or broadcast text-based system alerts automatically via our ENcastTM option. IP-Based Audio Control includes network-based control of the audio program (with flash-drive backup) and an audio management software suite.  See a comparison chart of audio control methods to help you decide which you're most interested in.
 
Consider garnering our professional recording services for creating broadcasts, in some instances free.
 
Contact Bill Baker for planning assistance.
Step 7:  Obtain a quote.
Provide us the following details to receive a precise quotation:
  • Your name, agency, phone and fax numbers; email address, if desired.
  • Product name: ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio System.
  • Installation style: yard or isolated.
  • Options of interest.
  • Indicate "turnkey" installation or whether you will prepare your own transmitter site.
Step 8:  Choose 'All Hazard' counties for NOAA warnings.
To target automatic Emergency Alert System and National Weather Service warnings and watches from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, consider which counties you want to have programmed into your system. Consider adjacent counties in the direction from which weather approaches.
Step 9:  Complete a system configuration form.
If pretty sure you might want to purchase an ALERT AM System, please complete and fax or email us this programming questionnaire, so we can prepare the system for you.
Step 10:  Prepare your transmitter site.
If you will not be contracting us for "turnkey" installation, you may get ready by preparing your transmitter location yourself. This preparation is detailed in our instructions manuals for ALERT AM Systems. Contact Bill Baker to request an advance copy of your station's manual, which details exact site preparation procedures. Let him know you are interested in the ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio System and which installation style and options most interest you.
Step 11:  Tell listeners about your station.
The most important way to let motorists know about the station is with signs. It's also important to begin developing other types of communications (such as refrigerator magnets, news releases and posters) as soon as you purchase the system, so listeners can be made aware as soon as your station becomes operational. Then continue communicating about the station at regular intervals throughout each year — to keep it present in listeners' minds. We can send examples and templates of these types of communications on compact disc at no extra charge.
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