CPB Awards Grant to NPR to Help Public Radio Stations Improve Emergency Messaging

Stations in ‘Tornado Alley’ to send messages to mobile and other digital devices

September 26, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 26, 2017) — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded a $419,000 grant to NPR, manager of the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS), to help public radio stations in “Tornado Alley” improve and expand their local emergency-messaging capabilities on mobile devices and other digital platforms.

NPR will provide up to 30 stations across 10 Midwest, South Central and Gulf Coast states with software and training to connect with the PRSS MetaPub delivery system. The metadata technology will enable public radio stations to issue text and graphic alerts synchronized with over-the-air broadcast messages to be heard and seen on mobile phones, HD radios, “connected car” devices, Radio Data System (RDS) displays, and via online audio streaming.

The heart of this project is to tap into new technologies to bring better immediate emergency communications to stations and audiences,” said CPB Vice President of Radio Erika Pulley-Hayes. “As demonstrated by the recent hurricanes, public media provides essential information services to local communities. Expanding this work across platforms can help save lives.”

“Our goal is to give stations in severe weather-prone areas better tools to provide their audiences with potentially life-saving information over multiple communication channels in times of emergency,” said NPR Distribution Vice President Michael Beach. “Stations can let their audiences know about impending threats from severe weather, recommended evasive action, and locations of emergency shelters. These stations will help develop a process that can be used nationally across public radio.”

PRSS will provide participating stations with extensive engineering support and conduct quality-assurance tests. Participating stations will provide feedback about the installation and implementation of MetaPub and ways to improve usage and help their local communities.

The project builds on a pilot test of MetaPub in 2016. With a $66,000 grant from CPB, six public radio stations transmitted emergency alert test messages using text and graphics as part of the statewide “Great California ShakeOut” earthquake drill last October.

This capability can also be used to provide non-emergency information, including programming details.

To learn more about the PRSS’ MetaPub service, please visit http://prss.org/metapub

About NPR

NPR's rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans everyday—on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners consider public radio an enriching and enlightening companion; they trust NPR as a daily source of unbiased independent news, and inspiring insights on life and the arts. Learn more at npr.org/about or by following NPR Extra on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

About the PRSS

The Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) is the distribution network through which thousands of hours of news, music, and specialized audience programming are delivered every year to public radio stations throughout the United States. Managed by NPR Distribution, the PRSS is a unique, cooperative enterprise. Each participating station is a stakeholder in the collective assets of, and services provided by, the satellite system. Interconnected stations own their own downlink and uplink equipment. The satellite transponder capacity as well as the national operating system equipment located in Washington are owned by the Public Radio Satellite Interconnection System Charitable Trust.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn, and subscribe for email updates.

For more information, contact:

Letitia King, CPB

Erich Shea, NPR / PRSS
(202) 513-2620

Categories: CPB Funding, Digital, NPR, Radio