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Old 04-15-2013, 09:15 PM   #1
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Did I do the right thing?

Whenever there is a storm of any kind we are always told to turn on the radio and tune into your local radio station for news and information. Last week; as you know; we had a major ice storm in this area. My local radio station is KDOM in Windom, MN. As the ice storm knocked out power throughout the region KDOM went off the air because they have no emergency generators at their tower site or at their station. I feel KDOM "dropped the ball”. On the farm we have a generator that uses an automatic transfer switch that starts the generator to provide power in an emergency. And, even at my little house in the country I have a generator that I can, and did, need to hook to the tractor to provide power. I know KDOM is just a small station but, they should be able to have a backup generator they can get running during a power outage even if they have to drive to the transmitter site by car, or by snowmobile if necessary, and start the generator manually. I'm not the only one who was complaining when they went off of the air. I hope that you will contact the necessary people that can help work with and help fund some generators for the radio station. This ice storm was a good test of our emergency preparedness and we found a big flaw in the system when we cannot keep the radio station on the air.

I sent a copy of this e-mail to my county Emergency Management Director, and both of my state Representatives. Now, I'm thinking I maybe should not have ,rocked the boat, or caused problems in any way. So, did I do the right thing or did I screw up ?

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Old 04-15-2013, 11:44 PM   #2
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Oh, I don't think you screwed up too bad. Chances are one of two things. If the stations are mandated to have that kind of capacity, and this one doesn't, then they will get their hands slapped and so they should. If they aren't, they aren't and thus nothing will happen. At a guess, there is probably some kind of regional strategy for emergency preparedness that may not include this particular station but maybe another one somewhere else. Or maybe some kind of Emergency Frequency transmitter run by the state during times of crisis. It probably would be worthwhile to ask the question of those in charge of such matters. Find out what the strategy is first and then find whether there are holes in it.

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Old 04-16-2013, 08:17 AM   #3
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If you don't point out the problems, they sure won't get fixed. It sounds important to me...and it should not be that costly to provide emergency service.
For hurricane preparedness here, most radio & tv stations are equipped to stay on air. We lose cell phones after a few days because the towers only have battery backup. Communications are essential to find where to get water,food (MRE's), medical, fuel for generators, etc.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:27 AM   #4
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There are all kinds of reasons why the station may have gone down during an ice storm that a generator would not have fixed. The antena may have been damaged, coaxial cables may have been down from ice, other building damage, ice on the micrwave dish. Just saying.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:32 AM   #5
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Personally I think you did the right thing.

Things can only be fixed when they break and are brought to the attention of the responsible party. Maybe your information has sparked an out of the box thought process. Maybe a nice follow up letter asking if they have found a solution will keep them thinking.

Happy trails.

And yes, chief02, there are things that are beyond human control but for the ordinary, it is doable.
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Old 04-16-2013, 10:22 AM   #6
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"Just the facts mam, just the facts." Impossible to keep communication systems up 24/7 365 days as mentioned due to many factors. I suspect the station manager was under extreme stress to get back on the air in any case.

There are weather radios you may have been able to use in the area or television stations. Relying on one source for information is not a good choice.

I do communications for a living and know how critical they are and the things that can and do happen. Fires, vandalism, componenet failures, generator failures, battery failures, floods, earthquakes. I think those all happened in one day here in Kalifornia.

I saw the Sacramento 911 Dispatch center dead and dark for 20 minutes once. Not a good thing.
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Old 04-16-2013, 01:26 PM   #7
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If the station is not providing the civil alert service then the impact is lack of billable air time.

Cause of outage could be anything, sometimes towers fall down...the station owner is well aware of the result, up to them to address cause
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:23 PM   #8
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We have been in two disaster areas in the last decade, hurricanes in FL and a really horrendous tornado. In both cases, I was astounded at the number of people who panicked and were paralyzed because there was no communication available-no cell phones, no land lines, no radio, no television, and no internet. I watched a lot of people waste a lot of time and effort trying to find some form of contact. I expect to be alone in storms and emergencies. I would rather the technician be home caring for his family instead of risking life and limb to go turn on a generator so others have a radio station to listen to. JMO.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:27 PM   #9
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I do know the only reason they went off the air was a power outage. And, all the other stations in the area had backup generators and were able to stay broadcasting. So, yes we were not completely without information. But, it's nice to have your local station stay on the air to keep you updated about closings, road closings, and other notices that the further away stations do not broadcast because they are not for this area.

We do have a weather radio for this area and it kept broadcasting. But, all it tells is the weather. It doesn't do anything else. Like keep us posted on local events. Maybe in a Nuclear attack or something the local cops could interrupt the weather radio. I don't think I would be too worried about any radio in that case though.

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