Weekly Tech Reminders: EAS Test, Repack & More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes
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The following is excerpted from the Alabama Broadcasters Association's weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to Larry Wilkins, who puts together the content and has shared it with Radio magazine readers. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to lwilkins@al-ba.com, and he will add you to the database.


Engineers should be aware by now that FEMA will transmit a National EAS test on Sept. 20 at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will be fed via IPAWS.

Stations are encouraged to verify that their EAS units are communicating correctly with the IPAWS server. Review your Station Logs (which should be checked once each week by the chief operator) to ascertain that you are receiving the Required Weekly Test from IPAWS. This RWT is fed every Monday at 11 a.m. local time.

Special note...since all EAS equipment is set to poll the IPAWS server (normally every 30 seconds) it is possible that you may receive the National Test from one of your two required monitor sources, instead of the IPAWS server. Engineers should check the audio level and quality of the required monitor sources and make any adjustment necessary to insure the audio is broadcast quality.

Preceding the EAS test to broadcasters, FEMA will send at 2:18 p.m. EDT, a Wireless Emergency Alert test message to all WEA capable wireless devices throughout the entire United States and territories.


Sage Alerting Systems has issued an update to their Sage ENDEC concerning FEMA Security Certificates. Download information is available at www.sagealertingsystems.com. This is an easy update and takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

Although this is similar to the update we issued in May, this August update is for a different certificate, you must also install this update.

Security certificates allow the ENDEC to use the digital signature in the CAP message to verify that the message came from an authorized authority, and that it wasn't changed between the originator and the ENDEC.

These certificates expire periodically. FEMA currently uses a chain of 5 certificates for alert validation, one of which expires at 11:55 p.m. EDT on Sept. 24 (Sep 25 03:55:36 2018 UTC)

This release will update that certificate. FEMA plans to decrease the amount of time that certificates are valid. Sage will switch from its current static intermediates scheme to dynamic acquisition of intermediates in the near future.


Is your Radio or Television station looking to expand the technical department or have an engineer retiring, then the ABA Engineering Academy is an excellent way to help someone already on staff learn more about technical operations.

We cover basic electronics, audio (both analog and digital), video systems, radio and television transmitters and antennas. Basic station operations (technical, FCC rules, engineering management) are also covered.

In addition to covering the basic operations, information on all the latest technology will be covered. It is imperative that engineers stay abreast of all the changing technology that is available today.

We have two engineering classes scheduled this fall. The Radio Engineering class is Sept. 24-28 and the Television Engineering Class is Oct. 15-19. Complete information and online registration is available here.


The Television Repack is now underway with the stations assigned to phase one scheduled to be completed by Nov. 30. These stations may begin test of their equipment and signal on Sept. 14.

The FCC just issued a Public Notice outlining all the date and procedures to follow during the transition. A most informative article summarizing the Public Notice is available here.


Quite often we get questions concerning the requirement concerning antenna current meters for AM stations.

Part 73.1350 (a) requires that Each licensee is responsible for maintaining and operating its broadcast station in a manner which complies with the technical rules set forth elsewhere in this part and in accordance with the terms of the station authorization.

Paragraph (c) indicates the licensee must establish monitoring procedures and schedules for the station and the indicating instruments employed must comply with §73.1215.

Section 73.51 states that the operating power shall be determined by the direct method which consists of either determining the antenna's power from the RF voltage or calculating the power using the antenna current and the antenna common point current.

That indicates that each AM Broadcast station must have a way to measure the antenna current as often as necessary to insure compliance. The "indicating instrument" can be a permanent RF current meter installed at the output of the Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) or a meter that can be inserted to read the antenna current. Directional stations should have a RF current meter installed at the common point as part of the phasor network.

Note: Stations that operate with non-directional day and directional at night may use the common point meter for non-directional current measurement, if installed in the transmission path and is calibrated with the antenna current meter at the tower feed point. This calibration must be entered in the maintenance log.