AM TIS stations important during emergencies

Today’s “” has an interesting article written by Bill Baker regarding the role 10 watt AM “Information Bulletin” stations play as the increase of climate-related emergencies occur.  Here in the west, increasing flooding & wildfires have often forced conventional broadcasters off air, usually in tandem with hard-wire phone & Internet being unavailable.  These low power signals are often found on AM 530 or 1610-1710 where there are fewer broadcasters.  Such stations are always automated, but local civic officials & first responders usually have coded access to allow them to update info using their cell phones to input audio. Regionally, we have a number of these devoted to WSDOT bulletins, changing weather & chain-up requirements in our mountain passes, marine weather & alerts or community resources.  A few TIS stations exist along the “dotted line” to advise travellers entering/leaving the US or Canada.  In the Seattle area, the one TIS (“Travellers Information Station”)”that gets out like gangbusters is 1650 “The Voice of Vashon“.  It’s favorable antenna location & signal are so strong, with such wide coverage that it’s hard to believe it’s only running 10 watts into a modest antenna.  Bill Baker’s article notes how these tiny AM signals provided the only means of alerts, evacuation orders & bulletins during the disastrous wildfire season in Calif. this summer.  As speculation about AM’s future continues, & attempts to preserve the AM broadcast band pursued, we are reminded via this interesting article that such facilities are an important, reliable source of emergency info & a valuable tool keeping our highways flowing smoothly & marine operators safe.  If you are aware such a station exists in your area, devote one of your vehicle or battery-operated portable pre-sets to a TIS station to ensure you have  the important info you need in an emergency or disaster.


Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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