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  Planning an Information Radio System

Below are general considerations for planning  and implementing a licensed information  radio service in your area. It applies to our ALERT AM, Information Station, RadioSTAT and VoiceSta\r information radio systems. Find a RadioSAFE systems planning guide here.

Feel free
to email us for personal planning assistance (or call Bill Baker at 616.772.2300 Extension 102).

We have a network of representatives across the country; and, if helpful, we can put you in touch with one in your area who can visit your site(s), help with frequency selection and find the best antenna location(s).

We can even install the system on a shared basis or turnkey — whatever is needed.
Above, Thomas Cravener
North Tahoe Fire Protection District, CA
1. Choose your radio system and request an estimate or quote.
Do you want your station to operate from a fixed location(s) or be portable – deployable to where it is required when needed? Maybe you want it to be both. What kind of range is required?

See products most often used for common applications here and / or survey our product array.

Request a line-item estimate or quote. Our estimate and quote forms show you all the options from which you can select. See available methods for purchasing our systems, components and services here.
2. Determine a broadcast location and/or operating area, consulting with us.
Each standard Information Radio Station (whether fixed or portable) transmits in a 3-5 mile radius from an antenna centerpoint, covering 25-75 square miles. Broadcasts may also be simulcast to the internet via the StreamCAST Service, which can include Alexa Advisories. The 3-5 miles of coverage can be a lot farther for the RadioSAFE Systems. Consult with Bill Baker (616.772.2300 x102) to identify the best plan for selecting an operating territory and an antenna site.

Additionally, listening both within and outside the radio coverage area(s) is possible, if you select the StreamCAST Service to simulcast across the internet to listeners with PCs and portable devices.

Use a map to select a general operating location for your station such that a radius circle fully encompasses the highways requiring coverage. The signal will usually carry 3 to 5 miles and be heard much farther away on some radios. But the strongest part of the signal will always be within that radius. If a specific highway or intersection is critically important to cover, consider a broadcast location nearby. Mark the map to show the area within which the antenna should be located to meet your coverage goals.

For best coverage, the immediate antenna location should be free of objects that are immediately lateral to the antenna. This includes buildings, trees, terrain features, lighting, power and communication poles, other antennas and towers, overpasses and highway signs.

Lateral obstructions that exceed the height of the antenna support should be at least twice as far from the antenna support as they exceed its height. For example: if the AM antenna is mounted on a 20’ pole, if there is a 35' tree nearby (15' taller), the tree should be separated by 30' or more. See "Radio Antenna Siting."
Positioning the Antenna Near Obstructions that Exceed the Antenna Support's Height
The lateral distance to an obstruction (X) should be at least twice the obstruction’s elevation (Z) above the Antenna Support Height.
Antennas installed closer to obstructions may evidence signal degradation, particularly if operating on lower AM frequencies.
3. Consider fixed or temporary signage options.
Signs are commonly used to advise citizens of the radio service and its status. Survey our various static, dynamic, fixed and portable sign options at this link. Consider where will be placed to announce to motorists entering the area that the signal is available.
4. Conduct a frequency search.
Selecting the best radio frequency for operation is an important determination. Survey (with an automobile digital AM radio tuned to your candidate frequencies) the streets, areas where listening is required. Monitor all of the candidate frequencies throughout the listening areas at least once during daylight hours and at least once after dark. Here is a form designed to help.
5. Order FCC licensing and the required products and services.
Generally, deliverables, licensing and other services are ordered together. But in some cases you may want (or be required) to have a granted FCC license in hand before placing your equipment order and requesting installation services. See our FCC Licensing Services webpage.
6. Determine a delivery / installation plan.
Our project managers work with you one-on-one to develop a timeline, division of responsibility and scope of work required to make your project a success. See our Installation Services webpage.
7. Partner with Information Station Specialists to create great messages for broadcast.
We provide up to 3 minutes of no-charge general broadcast recordings with the opportunity for you to commission more. We can also help you write and produce multi-voice productions tailored to your application. Learn more about our Recording Services.
Customer Reviews
“ When the power goes out and telephone lines are down with no computer and everything stopped, residents can turn on their AM radios to hear emergency advisories [on our ALERT AM station]. During an emergency, designated people from state/local public service agencies call an answering-machine line and immediately put an emergency update on the air to the community."
Mike Williams, Director
San Marcos Pass Fire Department &
Wildland Residents Association, CA
"[With our Information Stations] visitation has increased approximately 14% since the billboards and radio stations were put in place."
Fred Sanchez
Chief Interpreter & Resource Manager
Andersonville National Historic Site, IN
 "Deployment [of our RadioSTAT station] went quickly and was completed in about 20 minutes. The coverage was phenomenal and absolutely unbelievable that a 10-watt station could be heard nearly 6 miles away in an urban environment with many tall buildings. Overall, the system was an excellent investment."  
John Black
Wireless Communications Manager
City of Long Beach, CA 
Related Links
Glossary of Radio Terminology
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