February 2022 Visitor Info Issue  
Newsletter Index Publisher:  Information Station Specialists Subscribe to The Source
The Blue Sparrow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, beckons to travelers who might otherwise fly right by on Historic Route 66.
A Historic Resurgence?
Broadcasting Back Stories Brings Appreciation of a Bigger Picture
Maybe it’s the pandemic phenomenon that is making historic interpretation such a sought-after commodity right now. Whatever the reason, The Source hears that more travelers than ever are visiting historic sites and drilling into the details. With staffing limitations, some venues are utilizing radio to serve up historic facts for folks in their cars, even during hours and days when their doors are closed. It is ideal to use a medium like radio to inform visitors about the current virus safety protocols, as well.

In Tucumcari, New Mexico, sixteen businesses have taken to the air, broadcasting their Route 66 histories using InfOspot Radio Systems all set up on AM 1640. [See the locations this Tucumcari website.]
Historic Steam Engine #93 on Duty at Nevada Northern Railway's Switching Yard
Because it is allowed under FCC Part 15 (license-free) regulations, these small stations can even solicit donations for the hosting nonprofit Tucumcari Main Street, as they paint their word pictures for travelers.

At Fort Wayne, Indiana, "Old Fort Radio" on AM1640 tells visitors about Historic Fort Wayne’s hours of operation and how they can experience live historical recreation events.

Farther west, Young Man, the National Park Service serves up nuggets about Herbert Hoover and his homestead on 690AM at the Town of West Branch, Iowa. Motorists can hear about Hoover and how to pay a visit while they pass nearby on Interstate 80. The Iowa DOT has erected large green and white highway signs to promote the service.

Meanwhile, in California, Point Reyes National Seashore is upgrading the quality and range of the multiple Information Stations it operates at their location north of San Francisco. Point Reyes is home to a historic lighthouse and a World War II era radio facility.

At Ely, Nevada, the Nevada Northern Rail Museum prepares patrons for visit experiences and serves up a slice of history on their newly installed Information Station on AM1610. The Nevada Northern Museum is the last location in the US with original steam locomotives that ride on regulation-sized rails. It receives visitation from all over the world. [See The Source newsletter, Aug 2021, Events Issue.]
Weather Fatalities
Doubled in 2021
More Extreme Events
Endangering Visitors
Last year, the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia logged 688 deaths from weather-related causes, topping any other year on record in the last ten and more than doubling the 2020 total of 262. Twenty different events contributed, including four hurricanes, a cold wave, two floods, wildfires in the west, droughts, heat waves and three major tornados. The National Weather Service stated in a recent report that 2021 was “marked by extremes across the US.” A spokesperson for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists labeled the statistics “Sobering.” The effect was substantial on visitation in affected areas and especially at outdoor venues such as our national parks, forests, historic sites and monuments.
Off-Roaders Must
Be on Message
Oceano Dunes Recreational Area Advising Off-Road Vehicle Operators How to “Have a Good Day” by Radio
OCEANO, CA: The State of California Department of Parks and Recreation calls it an “impressive playground for off-road enthusiasts.” Impressive indeed is the number that shows up to “bash the dunes” on a busy weekend, requiring the state to limit their number to a thousand Off-Road-Vehicles (ORVs) in the park at a time.

Like many unique venues, Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) has a lot of information to convey to patrons quickly when they arrive – details they are not likely to recall from reading a webpage. The task is complicated because you can also camp, fish, surf, hike, watch birds, search for clams or swim while ORV owners are recreating on the dune lands nearby.

Orchestrating all the activities efficiently on a summer weekend is a challenge. Management has chosen to get people up to speed before they get up to the gate with an information radio broadcast on AM frequency 1690.
Oceano Dunes is one of nine State Vehicular Recreation Areas managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation in California. 
Photo by Mike Baird via Wikimedia Commons
The repeating broadcast informs eager arrivals about things the need to know: speed limits, vehicle registrations, where they can operate their ORVs (and where they can’t), camping and fishing regulations and whom to call or text if they need assistance.

The radio service was begun on a different frequency and from a different transmit location years ago but was moved and improved in 2011 to yield better signal reception. Cliff Yamamoto of Foothill Communications surveyed the station’s increased range and quality and stated “The signal goes all the way down the beach to the farthest point [in the park]- about 4.5 miles - and it sounds great the entire way.”

Oceano Dunes SRVA obtained an EventCAST Radio System from Information Station Specialists on a rental basis to transmit the signal and repeat the informational program.
POLK COUNTY, FL: Meanwhile, in the Sunshine State, Polk County officials are broadcasting directions and safety info at their “Jeepin' with Sheriff Judd” off-road event near Bartow that benefits local charities. Emergency Management Communications Specialist Richard Sharp utilizes a portable Information Radio Station to get attendees “up to speed” when they arrive. “Basically, it’s a really big event for Jeep owners who want to ride various trails of different difficulty levels,” explains Sharp. “The broadcast message is to convey information about the trails and safety information. This event draws thousands of Jeepers.” Sharp’s portable Information Radio system utilizes a TR.6000 HQ 5.0 Radio Transmitter, licensed for operation anywhere in Polk County.

Emails to
The Source
"I have not tired of reading of current successes."
Frank Weed, National Park Service (Ret.)
"It’s fun to read articles about how the Travelers Information Service, which I saw begun at Yellowstone National Park, has survived, changed and matured since the 1970’s. I had the privilege of serving the nation as the National Park Service’s radio engineer. I was approached to support a fixed-location radio information service -- as opposed to a NPS pickup truck with an interpreter on-board announcing what people were in the process of seeing."
 
Our first National Park was also the site of our first Information Radio Station (TIS).
"I fully supported that request and am thrilled to see it so widely diversified. I am long ago retired, but I have not tired of reading of current successes with the wide deployment of TIS radio installations."
Frank Weed
National Park Service
Former Senior Radio Facilities Manager
Weeks at Yellowstone
On the Road:  Frank & Elizabeth Weed
History buffs will appreciate this recent article, re-edited by Frank Weed, about the origins of the TIS service in our national parks and this more extensive story about the roots of TIS.

What Call Letters Can Say about Your Station's Age
How long has your Information Radio Station been in operation? Generally it’s not polite to ask about age, but you can use this yardstick to estimate the original authorization date of your station, if you are a local government agency*. As with people, you can often get a good idea just by looking, so take a quick glance at the letters at the beginning of your station’s license callsign. You may be surprised at its longevity!
Letters On the Air Example TIS Stations
3 letters beginning with . . . 
K or W 1977-81 WXK 7790 Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, AZ (1978 est)
4 letters beginning with . . . 
KN 1981-85 KNEZ 390 Washington State Department of Transportation, Seattle (1983)
WN 1985-92 WNHC 787 Michigan Department of Transportation, Mackinac Bridge (1987)
WP 1992-2003 WPZK 221 Fort Lauderdale, FL (2003)
WQ 2004-2017 WQFW 855 Fort Bend County, TX (2006)
WR 2017-Now WRKV 621 State of Tennessee Department of Health (2021)
(*) Stations operated by federal agencies do not follow the above pattern; and military stations do not assign callsigns at all. So if you are a federal-level operator, a deeper dive will be required to know how long you’ve been around.
New AM/FM/Weather Receiver Ideal for Outdoor Recreation
A reliable, inexpensive AM/FM/Weather Radio receiver is now available - sensitive enough to pick up lots of stations. It can operate in a home environment or with batteries for campers and hikers on the go. The Midland Radio ER10VP not only picks up AM and FM bands but all 7 National Weather Radio channels and can be set to alarm when NOAA issues warnings. This receiver has the sensitivity to pick up 10-watt Information Radio Stations, demonstrating sensitivity similar to vehicle radio receivers. The unit’s market price is less than $20; but Information Station Specialists is stocking ER10VP receivers at 20% off ($15.95 each) for boxes of 6 or more for agencies to make available to visitors and employees. Email if interested.
© 1983-2022 • Information Station Specialists, Inc. • All Rights Reserved
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.