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Technical Difficulties, Mixed Results For First-Ever Nationwide EAS Test

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — For the first time ever, every American watching TV and listening to the radio anywhere in the U.S. saw or heard a test for the Emergency Alert System (EAS) — or at least that was the plan.

The test conducted in participation with a host of federal agencies including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and others began at approximately 11:00 a.m. PST.

But for some outlets, the test — which was originally scheduled to last as long as 3 minutes before it was cut to a more standard 30-second duration — failed to start on time or even happen at all in some markets.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon) visited the CBS2/KCAL9 studios at the CBS Broadcast Center in Studio City to monitor the unprecedented test firsthand.

"Nationally, you would hope you'd never have to use it, because to use it nationally would indicate some national emergency," said Walden.

The EAS is designed to alert Americans about a national emergency such as a nuclear attack, power grid system failure, or massive storm.

Every TV and radio station, satellite provider and cable system across the nation was expected to carry the test, but KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou reports things did not go as planned.


"Well, I noticed the noise came on, like a test thing coming, and then all of a sudden there was some mumbling and this and that, and it went away really quickly," said radio listener Reggie in Sherman Oaks.

Walden admitted there are still some kinks in the 14-year-old system that need to be worked out or upgraded.

"Being an old broadcaster myself, it's a matter of did the technology work and did somebody push the button at the right time in the right way," he said.

A full report on the test results is expected this week.

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