The Source Newsletter   
Return to Article Index  Publisher:  Information Station Specialists Subscribe to "The Source"
The COVID-19 Health Crisis
Good News Takes to the Air January 2021
Radio "Inoculation Stations" inform the incoming at vaccination locations.
UChealth, CO, Mass Vaccination Clinic at Coors Field Parking Lots
An EventCAST radio antenna was positioned on the roof of a nearby parking structure.
Using a designated radio frequency, Adams County Emergency Management Agency is reaching out to citizens arriving at the County’s drive-thru vaccine distribution site. John Simon, director of Emergency Management and EMS, has selected AM 1620 as the means to get initial info to those queueing up in Quincy, Illinois. Simon states that the use of radio technology frees staff for other tasks and also ensures that all arrivals receive the same, consistent, approved instructions. To encourage people to get the shot, the County wants the experience to be as efficient as possible. “It’s about the throughput rate,” says Simon. “This way we can spend less time with each car and ensure everyone receives the same information.” Jerrod Welch, Adams County Public Health Administrator adds, “This station allows my staff to focus on the individual patients that are getting their vaccines."

This radio methodology has gained traction nationally in recent weeks. One health district in Tennessee plans to run nine different radio signals simultaneously at various points of vaccine distribution (PODs).

Simon’s agency utilizes a VoiceStar System that incorporates an integral changeable message sign to direct those in the line to the 1620 frequency. The same methodology is being deployed by agencies in Birmingham, Alabama, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and Worcester County, Maryland. Other agencies employ radio systems in weatherproof cases (InfOspot and RadioSTAT), which can be transported to a site and deployed, along with quick-erect signage.

The InfOspot system is based on a design submitted by Hennepin County, Minnesota, emergency officials. Central Valley Health District in North Dakota was first in line for the initial production model in 2020. Prior to the introduction of COVID vaccines, safety officials utilized the radio systems at virus testing sites.

The last week in January, Denver’s Coors Field parking lots hosted 10,000 drivers who arrived for in-car vaccination. UChealth transmitted bilingual instructions and directions on 1630 KHz from atop the Colorado Rockies’ parking garage under a special emergency temporary license obtained by the Denver Police Department. [Listen to the broadcast.] SCL Health will replicate the event a mere mile to the northeast at the National Western Complex just off I-70 on two dates in February and March.
CSU Installation 
Mass Vaccination Site Highway Advisory Radio Station Antenna atop a California State University, Los Angeles, Building
Installation by Caltrans (Callifornia Department of Transportation), March 2021
In March, California's Office of Emergency Services, in conjunction with Caltrans, will set up two vaccination stations using EventCAST technology -- one at Oakland on AM 1670 and one in Los Angeles on AM 1680. The English/Spanish presentations give procedural and directional information for arriving motorists at the drive-thru events.

Touchstone characteristics of these products are portability and simplicity. Each radio system can be moved as needed and thus become an asset that can be shared with other jurisdictions. The audio program can be controlled via network, by flash drive/USB or by live microphone/override, depending on how the system is optioned.

RadioSTAT, EventCAST and VoiceStar products are licensed under FCC Part 90 and have a 3-5 mile radius of coverage. The InfOspot system operates under FCC Part 15 rules and requires no license. It is adept at parking-lot sized coverage – up to 1/2 mile.
Banking on Radio to Help the Hurting
Radio informs those lined up at the Spokes of Hope food distribution destination in South Carolina.
The InfOspot system has also been discovered by emergency distribution agencies such as Spokes of Hope in Little River, South Carolina, where locals often line up for miles to receive food and life-essentials. This nonprofit was instrumental in providing local assistance after Hurricane Florence flooded the homes of hundreds in the vicinity.

And churches such as Purpose Life Church in Springfield, Tennessee, have added radio to their distribution operations, as well. Says spokesman Chris Harder, “We posted signs informing people to tune to 1630 AM for instructions about how to register and to return to their vehicles until their number was called. Thanks to the radio transmitter, these were the smoothest running food handouts in the Church’s history.” The Church originally obtained the transmitter to make possible outdoor worship services for people attending in vehicles. 
Safety Radio Stations Go Viral June 2020 
COVID-19 Test Sites Rely on Radio
UChealth Vaccinations Left, Dr. Bridget Graney talks to patients about their vaccinations. From RadioWorld's article "Health Officials Deploy TIS for Vaccinations; Low power AM systems prove a useful tool." Mar 17, 2021 Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UChealth
Drive-thru virus testing sites in virtually every state are employing license-free radio technology to get safety and procedural information to motorists who continue to queue up. In New York State, lines have snaked for miles approaching sites in Rochester, Albany and Jones Beach. On the other coast, parking lots at Dodger Stadium have gone into extra innings to accommodate the demand, utilizing radio to inform those arriving for tests.

The three Mount Carmel Hospital campuses in Ohio added similar technology in the Columbus area. Mount Carmel’s system features portable antenna stands that can be deployed quickly.

The Central Valley Health District in Jamestown, North Dakota, will be deploying a portable system in a wheeled case with a quick-set-up antenna that they can move from facility to facility as required. Agencies like Central Valley are getting their communication strategies prepared for Points of Dispensing (PODs) that will be required once a vaccine becomes available.
Dashboard Distancing June 2020 
Radio Rediscovered as Medium for Pandemic Safety
It's a remarkable acknowledgment: the AM radio medium – 100 years old in 2020 – continues to be most convenient and universal means of getting audio programming into cars. Thousands of pop-up, license-free radio stations have appeared in the parking lots of churches, schools – and even cemeteries – to allow people to attend services and ceremonies safely. Ironically, the medium that has brought us to together since 1920 has demonstrated that it is also remarkably good at communicating with us separated.


At Dallas Baptist University, administrators took advantage of FCC rules allowing educational institutions to broadcast on-property, so the University's large graduating class students could grab diplomas as they snaked past a makeshift stage in a “Commencement Parade.” The school employed the EventCAST LIVE System to pull off the transmission in real time.

At the other end of the spectrum: Grand Rapids Michigan’s NexTech High School only had a graduating class of 35, but to each of those 35, the ceremony was no less significant. Principal Dan McMinn: " The skies were blue and the families were able to drive in and take over the parking lot, while our seniors were able to have their moment in the sun. NexTech was able to share the ceremony with families that may not have been able to attend in a traditional manner.” The high school employed the company’s license-free InfOspot System to do the transmission under a separate FCC license-free rule section.

In the examples that follow, one of these two aforementioned radio systems are employed to make the broadcasts happen.
Principal Dan McMinn stands observing as the InfOspot Antenna System transmits graduation proceedings at NexTech High in Grand Rapids, MI. Families and graduates listen to a graduation ceremony while distancing in their cars, mixed with the caps and gowns, balloons and window signs. Arguably the most prolific advocates for localized radio is churches and synagogues, many that are broadcasting services into parking lots.

Arguably the most prolific and avid advocate for localized radio are churches and synagogues, many of which are broadcasting the audio feed from their services into parking lots. Says one church spokesperson from Gig Harbor, Washington: “We connected a small mixer for a keyboard and singers and wireless mic receiver for the pastor. Everything worked flawlessly.”

Sprawling Saddleback Church utilized the EventCAST System at their main campus near Lake Forest, California, for a drive-in communion service attended by hundreds of participants.

How does one proceed with a burial service, when the “dearly beloved gathered here” can number only ten? Companies such as Dignity Memorial and Family Legacy have turned to radio to broadcast services to people attending at a safe distance. Portable radio systems are transported to each gravesite and connected in tandem with the sound systems normally used. At Wisconsin’s Memorial Park near Brookfield, Wisconsin, a permanent 24-7 broadcast also provides a tour of the historic cemetery for on-property visitors. A special program allowed Memorial Day visitors to participate via special programming created for that weekend.
Meetings & Special Events

Agencies as varied as the City of Riverside, California, to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Authority in New Jersey are convening  meetings in vehicles that are normally held indoors Del Mar Fairgrounds, the site of the San Diego County Fair, had to cancel the Fair this spring but this summer will hold movie and family events in large lots, so attendees can participate "in vehicular."

At Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma, the symphony orchestra will be performing this summer not only “under the stars” but also “into in cars” for patrons who come to lot-based performances.
© 1983-2023 • Information Station Specialists • All Rights Reserved
PO Box 51, Zeeland, Michigan, USA, 49464-0051, Phone 616.772.2300, Email
• • •
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.