Radio Waves: Old Time Radio Book, AM to Digital, and Radio in Maui, and Nationwide Emergency Alert Test in October

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Mike, David Iurescia, Rich Dalton, and Dennis Dura for the following tips:

Former Downriver music educator pens book on history of old-time radio (News-Herald)

Brian Rogers is an adventurer of sorts. He’s what you might call a renaissance man. Born in Buffalo, New York, Rogers has been a part of the fabric of the Detroit area since his family moved here in 1943.

Since then he’s been a music educator, choir and band director, speech therapist, paralegal and a freelance writer.

You could say that everything Rogers has pursued, both vocational and otherwise, has centered on the art of communication. And the affable educator and author certainly honed his literary skills through the revised edition of his new book “Adventures in Old Time Radio.”

It is 146 pages and 50 chapters of brief excerpts and articles on the evolution of radio from its inception in the 1920s through 1960.

Rogers, a longtime Allen Park resident who now lives in Dearborn with his wife, Clara, was inspired to compile the book out of his love for, and activity in, the shortwave radio community and as a columnist for the Great Lakes Monitor. [Continue reading…]

Click here to purchase this book from Amazon via our affiliate link and support the SWLing Post at no extra cost to you! 

Crawford Will Flip an Alabama AM to All-Digital (Radio World)

Crawford Broadcasting is going to give all-digital HD Radio a try on an AM station in Alabama.

On Sept. 1 the Christian broadcaster will flip WYDE in Birmingham to the MA3 mode; only listeners with HD Radio receivers will be able to hear the AM signal after that, though the same content will be available on two local FMs. Two other AMs in the country currently operate in all-digital.

“We’d like to give all-digital AM a try and see how it performs,” said Director of Engineering Cris Alexander. “The timing is right for us.”

The FCC approved the use of all-digital AM in 2020. WYDE airs at 1260 kHz with a 5 kW signal by day and 41 Watts at night.

“That particular station is ideally situated for an all-digital move,” said Alexander, who also is technical editor of Radio World Engineering Extra. [Continue reading…]

Radio and Maui: A Failure To Communicate? (Jacobs Media Strategies)

The morbidly funny video from the 1960’s classic “Cool Hand Luke” became a popular meme well before there was an Internet. You see it pop up when organizations or people on the same team (or in a relationship) suffer a serious breakdown in communication. Suffice it to say, this is a common condition.

When we look at what happened in Maui, we have a human tragedy that is off the charts. By the time this is all set and done, we will likely be looking at hundreds of people dead, upwards of $6 billion in funds to restore the damage, and incalculable pain and suffering. When weather disasters happen, widescale damage is often unavoidable. And the wildfires that swept through Lahaina fit that definition. But could the damage in human, financial, and property costs have been mitigated or decreased?

Maui is a place where many of us have been on vacation. Looking at the photos, it is unimaginable just how extensive the damage is. And in the aftermath, there are questions – lots of them – about what went wrong. [Continue reading…]

Hawaii Puts AM Radio to Work on Maui

The state has acquired four portable emergency advisory radio systems

Emergency officials in Hawaii will use AM broadcast equipment to help communicate with the public during the ongoing wildfire recovery efforts on Maui.

The State of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has purchased four RadioSTAT portable emergency advisory stations from Information Station Specialists in Michigan, which also makes specialized systems for applications such as Traveler’s Information Stations and Highway Advisory Radio.

The Wireline Competition Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission last week granted the state an emergency authorization to use the stations immediately at four locations including a checkpoint and police and fire stations. They can be used on 1620, 1650, 1670 or 1700 kHz. [Continue reading…]

FEMA and FCC Plan Nationwide Emergency Alert Test for Oct. 4, 2023 (FEMA)

Test Messages Will be Sent to All TVs, Radios and Cell Phones

WASHINGTON — FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) this fall.

The national test will consist of two portions, testing WEA and EAS capabilities. Both tests are scheduled to begin at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

The WEA portion of the test will be directed to all consumer cell phones. This will be the third nationwide test, but the second test to all cellular devices. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.

The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. This will be the seventh nationwide EAS test.

FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and to maximize the public safety value of the test.

The purpose of the Oct. 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. In case the Oct. 4 test is postponed due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, the back-up testing date is Oct. 11.

The WEA portion of the test will be initiated using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks. The WEA test will be administered via a code sent to cell phones.

This year the EAS message will be disseminated as a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message via the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System-Open Platform for Emergency Networks (IPAWS-OPEN).

All wireless phones should receive the message only once. The following can be expected from the nationwide WEA test:

  • Beginning at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message.
  • For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
  • Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”

WEA alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies through IPAWS to participating wireless providers, which deliver the alerts to compatible handsets in geo-targeted areas. To help ensure that these alerts are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, the alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration.

Important information about the EAS test:

  • The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers and wireline video providers.
  • The test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. It will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.

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8 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Old Time Radio Book, AM to Digital, and Radio in Maui, and Nationwide Emergency Alert Test in October

  1. mangosman

    HD stands for Hybrid Radio and not High Definition radio. It is giving digital radio a bd name. I say this because HD radio transmits its data signal in the channels used by other broadcasters. Interference is not only interfering with their competitors but also their own signal. Both DAB+ in Australia and Europe and DRM in India and some high frequency broadcasts covering continents the signal is restricted within a standard channel and no adjacent analog signal. and no interference to their own program. All of the signal power is data. Thus planning in the AM/FM only era, power specification was to prevent interference in the same channel which is also true for DAB+/DRM.

  2. Dave Mason

    Good luck in finding an HD station on AM in 2023. is the official website that is severely outdated. It’s listing a number of AM HD stations that switched it off many years ago. (KOGO, WHAM, WHTK and many others). The HD receiver in my car shows the HD logo for KSL, a thousand miles away -then the logo goes out without getting any HD signal (if there is one these days). KSURF in suburban Los Angeles reportedly broadcasts in AM HD – but I guess you need to be close to the transmitter. WWFD streams and has an FM translator, so there’s no loss if no one can hear the AM signal. The station is an acquired taste with a varied format that seems more a novelty than a “favorite” station. When HD on AM was used on KNX (1070) in Los Angeles it was plagued with issues. The signal would drop out, reverting to the narrowband AM audio. The processing was so bad that you’d only hear half an interview with varying levels. In our area, the Salem properties have pretty good frequency response on analog AM, while the others are still extremely narrow. If an “S” sounds like an “F” on AM radio there’s obviously a problem. That’s most AM stations today. IBOC HD has all the quality of a low bitrate MP3 file as well as the adjacent channel interference. Better that it be turned off-and better if AM receivers can expand their audio bandwidth.

  3. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    Regarding the all-digital signal on MW, WWFD has been running an HD signal that Crawford wants to use. WWFD is just over 20 miles from my house. We have MW HD radios in one of our cars that can receive the signal. During the day the coverage at 4.3 kW is good, with only one or two dead spots as we travel east up to 35 miles away from the transmitter. So that’s not bad.

    However they power down considerably at night to a 430 watts directional signal and are only detectable reliably just outside the the Frederick Maryland area.

    The Crawford license at night is another 10 dB down from that. So it will be interesting to see how far away they will have a reliable signal. My suspicion is that they may not even cover more than a five mile radius reliably. But I’d love to be proven wrong.

    1. Bob Colegrove

      I’ve occasionally listened to the buzz on 820 kHz for a while, and just can’t figure out how it’s a good business model at this time. Of course someone has to be the first with every new thing. It kind of reminds me of the early days of home computers when IBM, Apple, and Commodore software writers were competing for a very limited number of users. Their development costs had to be recovered from this “installed base.” Isn’t that what we’re seeing with HD digital radio sales today.

      The other thing is terminology. Is a digital radio something that a) receives digital broadcast signals; b) receives AM signals, but has DSP in the circuit; or c) receives AM signals, but has a digital display. If you Google “digital radio,” you will get all of the above. Until this is sorted out, the average consumer won’t know what to ask for or where to find it.

    2. Dave Kingsborough

      I live near Harrisburg PA, and I copied WWFD on my car radio. I was not moving, and I heard a “decent signal” out in the open near Camp Hill and another listen off an interstate east of Harrisburg, both around noontime. Because the signal was weak, it was noisy at times, although the fidelity of the music tracks astounded me.

  4. Jock Elliott

    Please note that the Nationwide Emergency Alert test will be held on national good-buddy day . . . 10-4?

  5. mangosman

    This will make the fourth transmitter to give all digital AM a go. Prior to this only one remained on air because it has an FM translator in its area radiating the same program.
    Whilst the daytime power is acceptable the 41 W at night is a joke. This is because the interference caused by digital signals is terrible.

    Just remember that in the AM band analog, hybrid AM HD and pure digital HDradio all modes still retain the wasteful carrier. In all digital it is 90 % of the transmitted power down to analog where it varies from 100 % for silence down to 71 % for the highest volume sound. The carrier contains no sound or data.
    The AM transmitter power rating is the power when transmitting silence.

    All other digital transmissions in other countries and HD radio in the FM band do not contain a carrier.

    I am yet to see a permanent 50 kW 24/7 broadcaster in HD radio in any band. I have never seen an all digital HD broadcast other than a trial in the FM band.

    How much of the audience know what HD radio is and will try and find the broadcasts even in cars. They have been brainwashed by the telcos to stream!


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