Friday, January 05, 2007

This Is A Test. For The Next 60 Seconds...

We used to read that every week. “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. In voluntary cooperation with the FCC,” etc. Voluntary –ha! We’d get our wings clipped if we didn’t “volunteer” to do this. “If this had been an actual alert (at this point, I always wanted to say: “Your ass would be grass”), you would be told what to do.” Yeah, save yourself anyway you can.

The tests for our internal use, never broadcast, came Saturdays at 9:30am and Sundays at 9:30pm. If the Commies wanted to attack America, those would be good times, because we never checked the AP teletype machine. The “extreme bulletin” light went off in the studio, but we ignored it until we had time to rip the test message off the machine, stick it on the clipboard and log its receipt. Major cities could be reduced to ashes before anyone knew.

Besides, as a safety, there was a Secret Code Word, same as you would get if you mailed in a boxtop and ten cents to your favorite radio super-person program. The folks at We’re Protecting You out in Wyoming would transmit the code word and we would know it was a real alert, a real attack. So, one Saturday morning at 9:30, a real alert came over with the real code word. Reactions varied from (a) Somebody screwed up, (b) Probably a screw-up but let’s check the network, (c) Holy Crap! Get On The Air Fast!

Our station went with (b) and, since neither the network nor the station we monitored in the nearby big city was doing anything, we stayed with programming.


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