May 2015 Issue  
Newsletters  Publisher:  Information Station Specialists Subscribe to The Source
Tropical Hot Tub Heats Up Again
A Humdinger "El Niño"
on the Horizon?
WASHINGTON, DC: NOAA’s most recent advisory says that surface waters out in the Pacific are way warmer than normal, increasing the chance of a worldwide "El Niño" weather disruption in 2015. “There is an approximately 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere [in the] summer [of] 2015, and a greater than 80% chance it will last through 2015,” states the agency on Climate.Gov Australian scientists are also predicting “quite a substantial El Niño event.”
Warmer-than-normal Pacific equatorial surface waters (orange, red) circulate west of South and Central America, signaling the onset of an "El Niño" event.
“El Niño” (the child), so named because it was first identified around Christmas time, is a substantial warming of surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that occurs every 2 to 7 years. In the United States, it is associated with warm and dry winters in northern states, very cold and wet winters in the West and South and sometimes a suppression of Atlantic hurricanes.
'97-'98 El Niño landslides damaged properties in California, above. Emergency managers now prepare for the possibility of more.
The last strong El Niño was the 1997-1998 event blamed, according to National Geographic Magazine, for “deranged weather patterns [that] killed an estimated 2,100 people [worldwide], and caused at least 33 billion [U.S.] dollars in property damage.”

NOAA states that in the United States during the ‘97-‘98 El Niño, “Severe weather events included flooding in the Southeast, an ice storm in the Northeast, flooding in California, and tornadoes in Florida.”

Many Information Radio Stations were installed in southern and western states before and after this event in the late 1990s to apprise citizens of the danger and to communicate with the public, if power and conventional communications should be lost.

Here's further reading from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center on "The El Niño Winter of '97-98" in the US.
National Parks Task TISs to Interpret
and Inform
New Stations on Air;
Origins that Paved the Way
Visitors board the Grand Canyon shuttlebus. Information Radio encourages ridership to save time, money and the environment.
GRAND CANYON, AZ: Beginning this month, Grand Canyon National Park is promoting its shuttlebus service with a new Information Station located on the South Rim in the Town of Tusayan. The broadcast tells visitors that they can save time and money and spare the environment by riding the shuttle into the Park from town instead of driving in and using self-park lots that often fill early in the day. Hear the broadcast.

The National Park Service selected the EventCAST program offered by Information Station Specialists to establish and maintain the Service. Hear the message, which is voiced by professional announcer Brook Taylor.
Fort Donelson's new TIS at the Fort Heiman interpretation site operates autonomously via solar power.
DOVER, TN and MURRAY, KY: In April, Fort Donelson National Battlefield near Dover, Tennessee, upgraded its Information Radio Service for visitors by changing to a file-based audio delivery system and by installing a second station at historic Fort Heiman near Murray, Kentucky. The new location is solar-powered and serves as a primary interpretation tool at the self-guided Fort Heiman location.
John Shoaf (right) of the NPS Denver Service Center installed many of the Park Service's early TIS stations, pictured above with Chris White (left) of Ozark National Scenic Riverways in front of Ozark's station, 1985.
ORIGINS OF TIS:  If it were not for the National Park Service (NPS), the Travelers' Information Service would likely have never gotten off the ground.

Retired NPS Wireless Program Chief Frank Weed shepherded TIS in its early days and provides this excerpt from an article entitled "From Groundwire to Microwave...," by Ralph McFadden, first published for the NPS' centennial and recently updated. It provides fascinating insights into the TIS Service’s origins.

Information Radio Stations are affordable, effective broadcast tools, according to  interpreters across the country whom Oregon State University interviewed. Get a free cd of the program, which contains real visitor-use broadcasts and interpreters' first-person account; just email your USPS address.
Hey, are we on the air?
New Device Knows When
You're Down . . .
ZEELAND, MI: When your system is off the air, you want to know immediately − especially if its purpose is to inform the public during emergencies. A new device being introduced by Information Station Specialists can help.

The RSTA-15 Broadcast Receiver monitors your Information Station signal 24-7 and sends you an alert email if it detects that the audio program level (modulation) or the signal itself (carrier level) significantly degrade. These conditions could be caused by a component failure – a complete or partial failure of a station’s transmitter, antenna or voice system – or a power/communication link outage that would take the station off the air.

Because the receiver can simultaneously monitor up to two additional signals, it has the capability to keep an eye on (for example) a NOAA Weather Radio Station whose audio might be part of your programming, as well.
Remote Site Transmission Analyzer
The RSTA-15 System can be operated via an network connection and does not necessarily need to be located at your Information Station itself – merely within its dominant signal area – to function. This allows the unit to be placed at an optimal location with required internet access.

Learn more about the RSTA-15 and contact Information Station Specialists to obtain a quote.
Gentlemen, start your engines.
New High Quality TIS Service to Begin in June
ZEELAND, MI: Mark down June 4, 2015, as a historic date − the first day in the 38-year history of the Travelers' Information Radio (TIS) Service that a change in technical rules will be allowed by the FCC − significant because it allows TIS a nearly 70% wider bandwidth to match that of conventional broadcasting.

The change to the higher quality service was proposed during the recent rulemaking proceeding by the American Association of Information Radio Operators (AAIRO).

Provider Information Station Specialists will be making upgrade kits available in the next few months and can install the upgrade as a service if desired. The Company has announced that it is taking orders and will be fulfilling them once the FCC approval process for the upgrade hardware is completed. Contact Information Station Specialists to receive a quote.
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PO Box 51, Zeeland, Michigan, USA, 49464-0051, Phone 616.772.2300, Fax 616.772.2966, Email

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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.