We get one every month on the tv and I was doing something else so did not even notice it today.
I live only a couple miles from a nuclear power plant and every so often they do a test of the sirens, they have to have them placed every thousand some feet or so for a ten mile ratious of the plant. Most of the time I don't notice the notice in the paper so it will startle me when the siren first sounds but then hardly notice, of course between blasts of the siren some states that this is test, this is only a test.
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Yes, this was new in that it was the first time the whole system was tested nationwide at the same time. There was a lot of concern on the part of the FCC and FEMA because in some places and on some stations/cable outlets, the only way they could announce that it was a test and not the real thing was on the audio track. So they were very anxious to get the word out especially to deaf people.
Warning the nation via broadcasting, by the way, goes all the way back to the 1950s, during the days of fallout shelters and "duck and cover." In those days the system and the tests were call CONELRAD, which I remember clearly was an acronym for "Control of Electromagnetic Radiation." Broadcasting is by definition electromagentic radiation, so I guess that made sense. Then in the 60s it became EBS, the "Emergency Broadcast System." Each station was connected to a sort of "mother ship" station in each market, and we ran tests regularly involving those annoying tones and interrupting the plate current on the transmitter (in other words, turning it off for a few seconds). I was an FCC licensed transmitter operator back on those days (working in radio), and there were strict protocols for carrying out these tests. Later EBS morphed into the "Emergency Action Notification System," and finally to whatever it is that happened today.
It did occur to me to wonder that since they were so worried about the test vis a vis deaf people, why they didn't do it at 5am instead of 2pm, when there would be far fewer viewers/listeners, but those are just the ravings of a lunatic.
At least Orson Welles had the good sense to do "War of the Worlds" on Halloween. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Anyone? Anyone?
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This test was VERY different than the monthly/weekly tests you see on your broadcast stations.
AR gave a great description of the evolution of CONELRAD to EBS to EAS. EAS has been around since around '97 or '98 but it was never truly nationwide. It relied on "Broadcast" channels and never came up on the cable channels. Yes, if you receive your local station on your satellite or cable you would see the tests but the hundreds of other cable channels were not included. If you were watching "Top Chef" or "Jersey Shore" you would have no idea anything was wrong other than that you're watching "Jersey Shore". Also, satellite radio was not in the system.
Yesterday's test was the first time that all channels were included in the national alert. It definitely didn't go perfectly but something of this scale rarely does work perfectly the first time and a lot will be learned from the failures that occurred yesterday. (Hopefully)
Once the broadcast systems are integrated then the local warning siren systems will also be integrated into the system.
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