The station, licensed by the FCC, will be an additional communication resource, complementing the Borough’s and Township’s Office of Emergency Management information services including cable TV, reverse 911, email and town websites. It is an automated station that will operate 24/7 with continuously looped messages, similar to other local municipal or highway advisory radio stations providing local community information.
Mayor Colleen Mahr of Fanwood and Mayor Kevin Glover of Scotch Plains pointed to the massive and lengthy power outages and disruptions to telephone, television, internet and cell phone service related to Super Storm Sandy as reasons to use any and all tools to communicate with residents. The station is engineered with two backup power sources and can be heard on your AM car or home radio. The broadcast will be streamed to the town website's making it accessible on a smart phone, tablet or computer.
Mayor Glover pointed out “what was once old is now new again"— while AM radio has been around for over a hundred years, Glover noted that all of our 21st century devices, including television, cell phones, and the internet, failed us during and after Sandy. So when all else fails, including power, residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood will be able to tune radios to 530 AM and get important information. Because it operates at low power, the station’s signal will be clearer in some places than others. It is specifically designed to be best heard on car radios.
Mayor Mahr added that securing and installing the last available station in the area was a coup, one realized as a result of a successful shared service effort. She further added, in addition to the value the station will provide during an emergency, during non emergencies, the station will be used to advise residents about a wide variety of information including street closings, travel advisories, school closings and local events.
The mayors concluded by expressing they are hopeful that their communities never face the destruction of a Sandy again, but should they, their professionals will now have in their emergency network of services 530 AM to keep citizens safe and informed.
The radio station is physically located at the Fanwood Rescue Squad building on Watson Road in Fanwood (photo shows 40-foot transmission antenna to the right of the building).
The station cost approximately $40,000 and the cost will be shared by the two municipalities evenly, Glover told