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KWMU among stations affected by emergency system glitch


St. Louis, MO – Officials say an accidental broadcast of the Emergency Alert System that went out on TV and radio stations near St. Louis and across Illinois this morning originated at the federal level.

Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency says the alerts that sporadically interrupted programming today were sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA installed a new satellite warning system yesterday and conducted tests today. Thompson says the alerts were meant to go out internally but went out to broadcasting systems instead.

There was no emergency, and the state agency wasn't told that the test would be conducted. The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the alerts.

Listeners to KWMU heard the station's signal drop at least twice this morning during a half-hour span on Morning Edition.

The first interruption lasted for a few minutes and listeners only heard emergency tones, followed by dead air. The second interruption lasted just a few seconds, included the emergency tones, then broadcast a few seconds of another station.

Staff were unable to do anything to restore Morning Edition during the mishaps because the emergency system automatically overrides the station's signal.