Thursday, June 2, 2005

AM radio plays vital role: "It may be the computer age, but city and county governments across the nation are turning to an old reliable—AM radio—to reach their residents with important messages.

"From offering warnings of emergency road closures to touting community events, low-power, government-operated radio stations are broadcasting around the clock to anyone who cares to listen.

"And, soon, some may broadcast hurricane information, if necessary.

"In Deltona, where a municipal station went on the air last fall, officials are even considering broadcasting City Commission meetings. Casselberry is just weeks away from going on the air, and Orlando soon will test a station.

"'AM radio is as old as the hills, but this is a new idea for emergency management,' said Bill Baker, president of Information Station Specialists, a Zeeland, Mich., company that builds, installs and obtains federal licensing for stations.

"The stations have been around for years, Baker said, but there has been a surge in interest during the past couple of years. He credits that to the availability of Homeland Security dollars.

"Increased interest in Florida, Baker said, is also being driven by last year's hurricanes."

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