KASU, 91.9 FM, the public broadcasting service of Arkansas State University, has enacted the metadata technology to allow KASU listeners to read texts and graphic alerts synchronized with over-the-air broadcast messages seen and heard on HD radios, connected car devices, and Radio Data System (RDS) displays.
The 100,000-watt station received a grant awarded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and National Public Radio (NPR) to help public radio stations in “Tornado Alley” improve and expand their local emergency-messaging capabilities on other digital platforms. During the summer, KASU received the hardware and software required to connect with the Public Radio Satellite System MetaPub delivery system along with other stations across the Midwest, South Central and Gulf Coast states in “Tornado Alley.”
“Basically, the RDS system lets you have a text with the station identification and what is playing now,” explains Mike Bradsher, station engineer. Station manager Mark Smith went on to clarify, saying that the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will continue to give an audio signal that listeners are used to hearing, while the EAS will now add a synchronized text message across the radio screen.
Marty Scarbrough, program director, emphasizes, “KASU will be able to customize texts with any relevant information related to station activities or vital public information.” Scarbrough provided examples of events that have happened recently such as a gas leak, delayed classes due to weather or traffic concerns that Morning Edition host Brandon Tabor broadcast to listeners.
Arkansas State University alerts that impact the surrounding community can now be texted on the KASU, 91.9 FM, screen, providing a way for KASU to support the community using another digital platform.
Bradsher concluded, “Eventually, we will be able to text underwriters (businesses or individuals who sponsor programming) when the new automation system is installed.”