Today's Topic: The Emergency Broadcast System
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The Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) was an emergency warning system in the United States that replaced CONELRAD, used from 1963 to 1997, when the EBS was replaced by the Emergency Alert System.
Until the system was superseded, radio and television stations were required to perform a Weekly Transmission Test Of The Attention Signal and Test Script on random days and times between 8:30 A.M and local sunset. Stations were required to perform the test at least once a week, and were only exempt from doing so if they had activated the EBS for a state or local emergency, or participated in a coordinated state or local EBS test during the past week. Additionally, stations were required to log tests they received from each station they monitored for EBS messages. This served as an additional check, as they could expect to hear a weekly test from each source. Failure to receive a signal at least once a week meant that either the monitored station was having a problem transmitting the alert signal, or the monitoring station was having a problem receiving it.
It's Saturday morning. You're still in your footy pajamas, you've got a bowl of Froot Loops in front of you, and you are watching The Muppet Babies. Man, you love the Muppet Babies. It's not as good as The Muppet Show was, and you're really not sure why you never see Nanny's face, only her stockings. Is her face severely disfigured? How? And more importantly, why? As you ponder that, here come the commercials. Pop Tarts -- they're so cool they're hot. My Little Po-ny, My Little Po-ny.
And so it was that TV came to have three distinct elements... shows, commercials, and the EBS tests with the loud... uh, what would you even call that? A steady beep? The sound of a broken Taboo buzzer? Whatever it was, it -- and tests -- fascinated me. Why was it always "just a test"? When would we get to have a REAL emergency? And if we did, would I be the one who had to tell my parents? My mom and dad didn't watch Saturday morning cartoons with me. I'd have to alert them! And what kind of emergency would it be? Honestly, I couldn't even begin to fathom something that would affect America on a national level.
The system has now been replaced by the similar "Emergency Alert System", which has an even MORE ANNOYING buzzery sound.