Nationwide WEA and EAS Tests September 20th-What You Need To Know

There is a lot of media coverage about the upcoming nationwide tests of the Wireless Emergency Alert System and the Emergency Alert System. The tests will be conducted at 1:18 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. on Thursday, September 20, 2018.


The Wireless Emergency Alert or "WEA" system is a nationwide system that is designed to send emergency information specific to your area, or nationwide if warranted, to your smartphone. As many of you know, the system has not functioned well and is less than dependable. 












On September 20th, your smartphone will hopefully receive the "Presidential Alert". If it doesn't, notify your cell company.














If you are listening to AM or FM radio or watching TV, you should hear the test as well as see text about the test on TV.


The purpose of the test is to give broadcasters, who are First Informers, an opportunity to make sure the system functions properly, and if not, learn why not and what corrections need to be made. This is not the first nationwide test. The addition of the WEA test just prior to the EAS test has resulted in increased media attention. 


The Emergency Alert System, in one form or another, has been around for decades. Originally it was the CONELRAD system, developed during the Truman administration in 1951, which was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System or "EBS" in 1963, and finally the current system, the Emergency Alert System or "EAS" came about in 1997. In addition to being much more dependable, the EAS system uses local radio, TV, and cable systems, all of which must participate, and they are the sources in most communities for emergency information and followup information when needed. We are discussing an upcoming test here, but everyone should have a battery operated AM-FM radio on hand at all times to use to get news and official information during and after an emergency, and a NOAA Weather Radio with backup batteries for weather warnings. If I could emphasize any one thing about being informed before, during, and after an emergency-whether local, regional or nationwide-it would be to look to local radio and TV. These "First Informers" are much more likely to be able to keep you informed than any other media, including the internet. 


The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.











The FCC, in conjunction with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NWS), implements the EAS at the federal level. The President has sole responsibility for determining when the EAS will be activated at the national level, and has delegated this authority to the director of FEMA. FEMA is responsible for implementation of the national-level activation of the EAS, tests, and exercises. The NWS develops emergency weather information to alert the public about imminent dangerous weather conditions.


The FCC's role includes prescribing rules that establish technical standards for the EAS, procedures for EAS participants to follow in the event The EAS is activated, and EAS testing protocols. Additionally, the FCC ensures that the EAS state and local plans developed by industry conform to FCC EAS rules and regulations.


9-16-18 5:29 p.m. kawx.org 


About The Author

Chris Daniel is a broadcaster, broadcast technical and compliance consultant, and the chairman of the Arkansas Emergency Communications Committee which is responsible for the "EAS" system for radio, TV, and cable in Arkansas, and is certified by the Society of Braodcast Engineers as a Braodcast Technologist and Radio Operator. Chris also serves on the board of directors of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, and is an Emergency Coordinator for the American Radio Relay League. Chris holds the highest FCC commercial radio license (GROL) with a Radar Endorsement, and is a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator (W5AWX). 



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