Reviewing the National EAS Test

As Chief Engineer of Clear Channel’s San Diego LP-1 (KOGO) and LP-2 (KLSD) stations, Bill Thompson led San Diego’s effort to relay the national EAS test. Here’s Bill’s take on the November 10, 11 AM test:

KOGO got its audio directly from FEMA or whatever ‘alphabet soup’ government agency originated the test via a dial up phone connection. They issued the command to the PEP Sage Endec located at the KOGO Transmitter to start the test…then dumped the audio into it (bad as it was)…then issued the EOM Command. KLSD received the KOGO Test “off-the-air”, and rebroadcast it. KOGO and KLSD also got the test from KNX (off-air) and NPR (via ISDN from KPBS), since NPR was an entry point.

We did a couple of closed circuit tests with NPR, and they worked fine…[but the day of the test] the NPR feed was from WJLA-TV in Washington; which we found to be a bit weird.

There’s a lot of fuss regarding the test ‘failing’, and I feel that’s a wrong answer! From a technical standpoint, I think it was at least a modest success here in San Diego. Every participant got the tones, albeit the audio was pretty bad. On a national scale, there were areas with problems and I think those problems probably started at the PEP level. However, for something that complex and so sprawled out to go as well as it did the first time out of the gate I think is commendable. I’m sure there will be a LOT of changes made in the PEP system before the next test, foremost being the method of delivering the audio to the PEP Stations.

Meanwhile, Bill’s manager at Clear Channel, John Rigg, serves on an EAS PEP committee, chimed in:

Officially we made the effort to receive the test via 3 different paths–two worked, one did not.  The two that worked were normal connections and special lash-ups for the test. Oddly enough, the NPR inbound was one of the paths that did not function. The test supplied to NPR was flawed and did not propagate.

John said he would wait to hear from his PEP colleagues and FEMA before making further comments.

Bob Gonsett, Steve Blodgett, and friends have posted extensive reviews and comments here.