Another piece of KUSP’s “Upgrade 2011″ equipment has arrived. Sean, who hosts our afternoon news programs Monday through Friday, is pictured here holding our new Digital ENDEC (short for “encoder/decoder”), manufactured by Sage Alerting Systems.
A broadcaster’s role in distribution of emergency information has become steadily more complicated through the years. The FCC, FEMA, and other governmental authorities are slowly implementing a major overhaul of the Emergency Alert System, through which broadcasters and cable systems receive emergency information from public safety agencies and forward it along to you. The vast majority of EAS messages (here in the Monterey Bay area, and nationwide) originate from the National Weather Service.
The EAS we operate now was developed before the Internet was widely used. It’s difficult to quickly extract the details of an emergency message from an EAS transmission and provide it on line — or update it as more information becomes available. Finally, most EAS equipment now installed at radio stations (all of which has to be approved for use by the FCC) is completely analog and wouldn’t integrate well with the all-digital audio environment we’re building at KUSP.
Consequently, we acquired the shiny blue box Sean is holding. It’s a small specialized computer that effectively acts as a content aggregator. It has audio ports to monitor the EAS message feeds we get now (from the Weather Service and from other broadcasters) and Internet connectivity that enables it to receive info directly from emergency management agencies. When an emergency message is received, the unit processes the information, and then it makes the message available for live broadcast as well as making it accessible in other formats.
In dollar terms, it’s not a huge part of Upgrade 2011, but we think it’s an important part.