Category Archives: National

Time to Update Your EAS IPAWS Certificates

By Larry Paulausky, Vice-Chair Arizona SECC

A reminder for those who may have missed this info:  a digital signing certificate used by FEMA for its IPAWS service will be expiring in the next few days.  Certificates like this are designed to help recipients automatically authenticate IPAWS messages, and by design these certificates regularly expire to be replaced by updated versions.

To continue to receive IPAWS messages on your EAS devices, most end users like broadcasters and cable systems will need to update the certificate settings in their device.  Please check with your device’s manufacturer for instructions on how to do this.

For Sage’s ENDEC systems, have a look at their home page at https://www.sagealertingsystems.com.


For Digital Alert System’s DASDEC devices, see their field service bulletin accessible at http://www.digitalalertsystems.com/DAS_pages/resources_fsb.html .

For most users whose devices are otherwise at current software levels and already receiving IPAWS messages, these updates are free to download and install.  Please do so by the expiration date to keep receiving EAS messages (for example, AMBER alerts and Required Monthly Tests) via IPAWS.

By the way, the next certificate will be valid until August 21, 2021, so you may want to mark your calendars for July of next year to check again with your device’s manufacturer at that time for the next needed update.

Cyber Hackers Strike Salem Group

Salem Media, owners of KCBQ 1170 AM San Diego and K241CT Oceanside, apparently got hit by hackers with damaging ransomware. Salem announced it has been able to recover “many of its critical Operational data and business systems,” and that the company does not expect the incident to have a material impact on its business, operations or financial condition. No word on the impact on their San Diego operations.

Attacks in the last year caused damage to the Bicoastal Media, Urban One and Entercom groups.

FCC Allows AM/FM Simulcasts

The FCC last week issued a Report and Order eliminating prior rules (section 73.3556) that kept co-owned stations from broadcasting the same programming on both their AM and FM stations simultaneously. It was a rule intended in 1964 to begin pushing broadcasters to have more “voices” in a given community.

FCC Logo

However, the competitive climate of broadcasting has changed. There are infinitely more voices in a a given community due to the introduction of cable, satellite, HD subchannels, and now internet broadcasting. AM broadcasting struggles now with NRSC bandwidth limits, lack of stereo, electrical noise, and all that competition from better sounding sources.

The FCC R & O said that simulcasting will facilitate AM stations transition to digital broadcasting by allowing them to simulcast on FM or other AM stations until they can stand on their own feet as AM digital radios become more common. AM digital, when well implemented, can fill in gaps in rough terrain and cover longer distances.

The rule also allows duplication of FM programming even when coverage contours overlap. For example, a major ownership group could create a network of stations in adjacent markets that all have the same programming 24 hours per day much like EMF’s “K-Love” and “Air1” formats.

The change takes effect immediately.

Sprint Has Left the Room

Sprint Nextel Corporation, the communications company with the iconic yellow and black marketing appearance, is no more. As of this week, the name was discontinued by T-Mobile after the two merged in April 2020.

Most people don’t know that the name SPRINT began decades ago as the Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telephony, having evolved from the Southern Pacific Communications Company, which had its origins in the telegraph era of the 1800s. Railroads and gas pipelines make good utility rights-of-way, so they were the beginnings of several telecom companies.

Brown Telephone Co., which started in 1899 and became United Telephone, later merged with Sprint, so they get partial credit for the early history of the combined company, as well.

You likely remember that Sprint Nextel bought the spectrum at the bottom end of the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary band for its CDMA network in the early 2000s. This forced itinerant ENG users to go digital and smoosh together with much smaller channels.

T-Mobile similarly bought large chunks of the 600 MHz band of spectrum from UHF-TV channels 38 – 51 and have begun using it for their consumer LTE communications network nationwide.