Radio and “National Security”

Let’s say hpyothetically that any one of the top 5 largest Radio Owers fails and files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  What would happen next?

There are a few people in the radio business who specialize in managing radio stations while they are in the bankruptcy process.  Typically radio bankruptcies involve “mom and pop” local radio stations.  Typically when a radio station folds, it goes silent for a while and the FCC is notified.  To keep the FCC license from lapsing the bankruptcy court appoints someone to run the station – which generally means little more than playing automated or satellite fed music.  The objective is to spend as little as possible until a new owner for a station is found.

But what would happen if an owner with 100 or more radio stations and 1000s of employees closes its doors suddenly?  This has serious national security implications (that’s not hyperbole).

As long as most of us have been alive, we’ve heard Emergency Broadcast Network messages on Radio and TV doing tests to warn us in event of an “actual emergency”.   EBS was renamed EAS a few years ago.

The basic principle of the EAS is that every radio station (even LPFM stations) are required to have an EAS decoder connected to their radio transmitter equipment.  The EAS device is pre-configured to “listen” to the EAS “hub” – one specific radio station in its area, and if the appropriate signals are received, the EAS message takes over control of the radio and TV stations unilaterally if it has been activated by the White House.  The station has no discretion in the matter (State, regional, weather related are voluntary).  In June of 2007, there was an accidental activation of the real doomsday facility in the Chicago area.  [TV coveragae and report here]

In this case, the hub station was WGN-AM  (The owner of WGN is currently in bankruptcy, but WGN is their only radio station and the bankruptcy is proceeding in an orderly manner).

What if one of the really big radio owners fails?  In order to protect the operations of the EAS, the failed company’s radio stations cannot be allowed to “go dark”, even temporarily – and must remained staffed 24 hrs/day (that’s an EAS requirement).   Will this become the pretext for a government seizure of some radio stations in the interest of national security?   What radio station in your area is the EAS hub?  Do you know?  Is that sensitive information ordinary citizens should even care about?

This is a table from 2001 – may not be current….  (I’ve added a logo to the station list for the EAS Entry Points and L1 hubs)

Primary Entry Point (PEP) LOCATION Owner
KALL (AM) HERRIMAN UT  
KBOI KUNA ID
KCBS NOVATO CA CBS
WHB (AM) KANSAS CITY KS Union Broadcasting
KERR (AM) POLSON MT Anderson Broadcasting
KFLT TUCSON AZ Family Life
KFQD ANCHORAGE AK Morris
KFYR (AM) MENEKEN ND Clear Channel
KIRO VASHON WA Bonneville
KKOB ALBUQUERQUE NM Citadel/ABC
KKOH RENO NV Citadel/ABC
KOA PARKER CO Clear Channel
KTRH DAYTON TX Clear Channel
KTWO (AM) CASPER WYK  
WABC (AM) New York Citadel/ABC
WBAP MANSFIELD TX Citadel/ABC
WBAL Baltimore Hearst
WBZ Boston CBS
WCCO Minneapolis/St Paul CBS
WHAM (AM) Rochester, NY Clear Channel
WLS (AM) Chicago Citadel/ABC
WLW (AM) Cincinatti Clear Chanel
WMAC MACON GA Cumulus
WQDR FM Raleigh, NC Carolina Media Group
WRXL FM RICHMOND VA Clear Channel
WSM Nashville Grand Ole Opry
WSTA ST THOMAS, VI Ottley Communications
WTAM (AM) Cleveland Clear Channel
WWL New Orleans Entercom
WQTM CLERMONT FL  
WKAQ CATANO PR Univision
WCOS FM COLUMBIA SC Clear Chanel
KFWB LOS ANGELES CA CBS

Leave a Reply