Radio during emergencies/natural disasters forums forums Portland Radio Radio during emergencies/natural disasters

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #23982

    Hearing all of the stories about disaster prep for the coming storm made me wonder if there is even a need for a radio. Is there a radio station that Portland or Oregon in general could count on during an emergency when power is out?
    Are there more than 10 radio reporters who work outside of studios in the market?

    Andy Brown

    In a bad storm, power may fail. Towers may fall. Add to that the fact that most of the stations in town are automated either all day or part of the day and you have a recipe for no radio presence at all.

    But that’s highly unlikely.

    Most stations have back up power sources and auxiliary transmitters/antennae. Even so, tech staff is at an industry low in numbers of people that can make all the changes needed being in the right place at the right time. A single lightning hit to a combined antenna can throw a half dozen stations off the air in a second. Stand by generators that haven’t been exercised from time to time can fail to start, automated switching systems can fail because they hardly ever get tested after installation . . .

    So the answer to the first question, Dan, is no. However the most immune are the AM’s. Most AM towers are shorter then the behemoth ones in the west hills that are so high up they are prone to be hit by lightning and there is no arrest system that is bulletproof.

    In the old days, vacuum tube transmitter could take a lighting hit and just laugh. These days with solid state high power output devices, lighting can be devastating.

    Sturdiest tower IMO: The old 1190 array (now also 620) built by Westinghouse.

    Most vulnerable: Anything with guy wires which includes almost every tower in the west hills.

    In a real disaster you will just have to scan the dial.

    Before Stonehenge was built, the old KXL tower housed a handful of stations (90.7, 95.5, 100.3 and one or two others), was a lot lower in height, and a lightning hit took them all down and they were all on separate antennae (circa 1983). In 1974 I watched from the CR of 1470 AM in Allentown as a lighting bolt hit one of the three towers and fed back into the PA cavity of the transmitter which was visible through the CR glass and it was like fireworks going off, and then it reset itself and everything was fine (I think we lost a few vacuum caps out at the ATU).

    As far as the second question, I don’t know. I didn’t think there were any left at all that actually worked in town let alone at the studio.


    How about the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards network? They bill themselves as “your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information”:

    The NOAA weather stations would undoubtedly be subject to the same sort of problems that the AM & FM bands would have during a natural disaster but, if they are able to stay on the air, NOAA could be one more source of emergency information.

    Disaster relief agencies often recommend having a radio that can receive the weather band. The radios are available at REI, Amazon and many other places.

    The Portland station is KIG98 on 162.550 mHz (channel 7) and the transmitter is located on Goat Mtn. in Clackamas County.

    Steve Naganuma

    The top picture is a visual aid to Andy’s post.


    “The NOAA weather stations would undoubtedly be subject to the same sort of problems that the AM & FM bands would have during a natural disaster but, if they are able to stay on the air, NOAA could be one more source of emergency information.”

    Remember that in a lot of areas there is some degree of redundancy, if not outright duplication sometimes, of NOAA weather broadcasts. For example, KIG98 (channel 1, not 7) is this area’s primary station but in most parts of the region WNG604 (Woodland) on 525 is also receivable. If one transmitter is damaged and off the ait, the listener can often select a different frequency to obtain their local information from. Some areas also simulcast their local on a conventional broadcast band frequency. Manistream broadcast AM & FM radio doesn’t have such redundancy. Well, it sort of has it but doesn’t do it very well, if hardly at all any more.

    Probably the best example of redundancy near here is at the OR coast, most of which is covered by several different simulcast 162 MHz transmitter sites down the north coast, fed by KEC91 (Astoria). I have found along much of the 101 corridor between Astoria and Lincoln City, that at least 2 of these transmitters can be received more or less reliably at any one time and place.


    In Salem both 1390 and 1490, 940 in Woodburn, and 101.5 in Eugene were knocked off the air Saturday during the storm.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.