Our nation's Emergency Alert System (EAS) was created by the FCC, FEMA, and the National Weather Service to warn the public about imminent danger in the form of important weather announcements, civil emergencies, and Presidential messages. Broadcasters are required to maintain and participate in the EAS system, airing any and all messages the feds fancy us to relay to the listening public.
Here at WFMU, we joke a lot about the EAS. In recent years, the system accidentally called for an evacuation of the entire state of Connecticut, failed to pass on any announcements whatsoever on 9/11, and warned folks along the Delaware River about a flood by requiring broadcasters in the area to announce that "A civil authority has issued a civil emergency." Though we must admit, the EAS warning for Hurricane Katrina was indeed accurate, and carried an appropriate doomsday-esque tone, the system is far from perfect, a fine example of bureaucracy getting in the way of good intentions. Hence, all of those "Unknown Event" or "Marine Sector" warning messages you hear WFMU DJs read over the air from time to time.
Ken warned us about this 2 years ago, but yesterday the feds finally approved a plan to send EAS messages to our nation's cell phones via text messages. And what's even better than getting a government-sanctioned emergency text message? The message will be delivered with its own unique ringtone! Will it be "The Imperial March"? Will it be "Carmina Burana"? How about "The Macarena"?
I don't know about you, but I can't wait for more text message spam! There are 3 types of txts that the gov't can send you:
1. Presidential messages. For example: "Dis bbq s orsum!", "w@ did Putin sA?"
2. Imminent threats. Example: "OMG Tornado, fnd Toto n run 4 covR! :("
3. Amber Alerts. Example: "12 y/o abductd, blk van, NJ pl8s"
Rest assured, you'll be able to opt out of this new EAS wonder... but good god, why deny yourself?!