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 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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Spencer Hawkins, FAEM
Deputy Emergency Manager
City of Orlando EOC
Photo courtesy of Orlando Emergency Operations
Related Links

Alert Stations across America - a State-by-State Listing

"Direct-Connect to Those Your Protect," IAEM Bulletin

Emergency Advisory Radio Products

Orlando Florida Emergency Management September 2006
Orlando EOC gets 4 emergency advisory radio stations.
Below is an interview with Spencer Hawkins of the Orlando, Florida, Emergency Operations Center about their first ALERT AM station with computer-controlled audio (contact: Spencer Hawkins, FAEM; Deputy Emergency Manager, 321.235.5439). The interview was conducted in 2006, when Orlando obtained its first station. In 2008, three more stations were added to simulcast across the City. See Audio Distribution to Satellite Stations.
What problem were you trying to solve by getting your Emergency Advisory Radio station?

"...to find a way to quickly and cost effectively communicate emergency information to city residents. Also, we wanted a system that we could control ourselves and not have to rely on an outside vendor."

How did you obtain funding?  

"We requested funding through the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)."

How would you judge results to date?

"I think we have started a good program with a tremendous opportunity to continue to grow our broadcast range and types of programs."

What has the response for your public been?

"Most of the response we have been getting is positive and asking for increased broadcast range....we have had some television news pieces done on the station."

Did you experience any problems on this project?

"From the installation to the training to our first broadcast it has been very user friendly."

How is the station managed?

"The system is managed by the Orlando Office of Emergency Management, and we primarily have messages on overall disaster preparedness. In all of our outreach and media interviews we try to promote the station as much as possible."

Has the station actually been used for any emergencies?

"Yes it has. During [Hurricanes] Wilma in 2005 and Ernesto in 2006 we had up to date information for our residents."

What did you tell listeners to do?

"For those events it was primarily stay informed and heed the advice of public safety officials."

Where is your station located?

"It is in the Orlando Emergency Operations Center (EOC). During times of disaster the EOC is where we operate all city functions for response and recovery to a disaster, so it made sense to have the radio station close at hand to continually update the information being broadcast."

What is your frequency and callsign?

"1650 WQDC Orlando Radio."

Do you have advice for other emergency managers?

"Have a plan on how and why you would like to use this system before you purchase and set it up. Also talk to other agencies how have been using the system to see if your operational goals could be met by an AM radio station."

What has your experience been working with Information Station Specialists?  

"Very good! They were highly professional, training was simple and easy to understand and follow-up technical support has also been excellent."
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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.