A nationwide test of Emergency Alert System is set for today at 1 p.m. Houston time, when a half-minute message will air on all television and radio stations. The purpose is to test out the preparedness of the system to break into radio and TV channels to give instructions and news in the event of something awful happening. Like a terrorist attack, a Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries reconciliation or the McDonald's McRib going away again.
The federal government has never initiated a nationwide emergency alert, and this is the first test of the system. This system allows the president or government officials to address the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will spearhead the test.
Lucky for us who are glued to the Internet all day, we won't be bothered. And in the event of something bad happening, we would hear about it on Twitter first, through a series of manic, ill-informed retweets, or maybe on Facebook, from friends and loved ones we haven't unfriended or blocked yet complaining about missing part of Maury.
Growing up, the old Emergency Broadcast System, with that fun, shrill tone and dour announcer, was a cheap thrill for a kid who thirsted for breaking cataclysms. Those loud, angry tones excited us, then just as quickly let us down swiftly when we realized aliens hadn't landed or school was not in fact being canceled forever.No, this isn't that new dubstep all the kids are talking about, but it sounds pretty close...
Seriously, though, in the event of something like a terrorist event, a solar flare hitting the planet, or more random earthquakes, this thing will come in handy. God forbid something goes down. The tests began in the Cold War when nuclear war was a constant threat.
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The signal will come from the White House this afternoon, leading many anti-Obama voices and others to wonder out loud if this is a way for Vladimir Obama to give his red comrades marching orders. President Obama will be speaking during the 30-second message as well, meaning his voice will be breaking into your Rush Limbaugh or Outlaw Dave radio shows depending on what AM radio station you tune into, adding insult to injury.
Back in February, Alex Jones released a predictably vitriolic video detailing the plan of the government for the president to be able to address his public directly, seizing the airwaves. Each radio and TV station was installed with a FEMA box about 15 years ago, enabling a "takeover" of the station's broadcast.
With further government advances, it will be possible one day to have text messages and computer alerts sent directly to your devices (maybe even your Xbox) from the powers that be, if the radio and the boob tube don't get your attention. Stay tuned for that.