New AM radio station could save lives

Hull, Massachusetts will be installing its own AM radio station to provide another means of communication during emergencies. The new station is designed to enhance the existing methods employed for transferring emergency information to residents.

Hull, Massachusetts

The tiny peninsula town has always been battered by storms. From Doc Searls.

While some might view radio as an ancient technology, Hull Fire Chief Robert Hollingshead says, ” it’s just another spoke in the wheel of communications. In the event that systems fail, at least we have another redundant system so we can get information out to people.”

The 10-watt radio station will be situated on Hull’s Strawberry Hill. Blake Haskell, a member of the Emergency Preparedness Committee, confirms that the signal will hit all parts of the town and will not interfere with the WBZ signal. The station will resemble the low-power stations that disseminate traffic information for highways. A similar AM station has existed in Sharon, Massachusetts since 2006.

Radio Stations_US

Emergency advisory radio stations (existing in red, new in yellow) across the U.S. From Radio Source.

 

A portion of a $40,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be used to set up the radio station. The remaining money will be used to establish a local weather station. The new system will enable officials to broadcast information remotely through their Smartphones, and the controls for both will be located in the Fire Department’s central station.

Most forms of communication become ineffective during power outages. The radio station’s battery system is capable of providing backup power for four days. The advantage of using AM radio for emergency news is that it will work even if there’s a power failure, since the broadcast is accessible on car radios or portable sets run by batteries.

Officials say the 24-hour station will broadcast weather and taped messages repeatedly during non-emergencies.

Since not all residents may have access to an AM radio, officials are planning to purchase a few inexpensive ones to distribute among the town’s population, especially senior citizens.

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