WGN Channel 9 - Emergency Broadcast System - "This is NOT a Test" (1985)

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Here's a pretty spooky clip - transferred from an RCA Quad cart (for playing on model TCR-100 cart machines) loaded with 2" videotape.

A Fuzzy Personal Note: "I grew up at the height of the 2nd great nuclear war scare period (the first being the Cuban Missile Crisis of course), having been chilled to the bone from seeing movies like “The Day After” in 1983 when I was nine years old. So this clip was very fascinating to me, and seems to be a glimpse at what we might have seen on TV had the unthinkable occurred."

This cart was donated by Rick Garofalo, a long-time employee of WGN-TV, before retiring a couple of years ago. In this video clip, you can see Rick on his last day at work (2/6/15) chatting with the WGN Morning News team and showing off the very cart where this clip was extracted from.

The transfer work (no small feat, considering they have to take the cart apart in order to extract the 2" tape and mount it on a separate reel for playback) was done by the fine folks at DC Video of Burbank, CA.

Here's some close-up pictures of the cart, including a sticker on the inside that gives a date of 4/22/85. (The "J.E.W initials on the sticker stand for James E. Walters, a longtime engineer at WGN-TV who retired a few years ago)

Thanks also to our longtime Fuzzy Contributor Extraordinaire Mr. Chris Tufts, for donating the funds to get this cartridge transferred to digital.

"emergency action notification message #2 red card"

Voiceover by Floyd Brown.

"We interrupt our program at the request of the White House, this is the Emergency Broadcast System. All normal broadcasting has been discontinued during this emergency. This is Station WGN Television. This station will continue to broadcast, furnishing news, official information and instruction, as soon as possible, for the northeast section of Illinois. If you are not in the northeast section of Illinois, tune to a station furnishing information for your area. I repeat. We interrupt our program at the request of the White House, this is the Emergency Broadcast System. All normal broadcasting has been discontinued during this (spoken as 'the') emergency. This station will continue to broadcast, furnishing news, official information and instruction (spoken as 'instructions'), as soon as possible, for the northeast section of Illinois. If you are not in the northeast section of Illinois, tune to a station furnishing information for your area. Do not use your telephone. The telephone lines should be kept open for official use. The Emergency Broadcast System has been activated to keep you informed. To repeat. This is Station WGN Television. This station will broadcast news, official information and instruction for the Northeast section of Illinois. If you are in northeast section of Illinois, keep tuned to this station for further emergency information. It is important that you listen carefully to announcements only on the station broadcasting information for your area."

We can probably be thankful this didn't air, but if it did, it very well could have been on Monday, April 22nd 1985. (a.k.a., the date the world ended in Alternate Universe #4702-AA-23-QZ808)





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A Fuzzy Personal Note: "I grew up at the height of the 2nd great nuclear war scare period (the first being the Cuban Missile Crisis of course), having been chilled to the bone from seeing movies like “The Day After” in 1983 when I was nine years old. So this clip was very fascinating to me, and seems to be a glimpse at what we might have seen on TV had the unthinkable occurred."

This cart was donated by Rick Garofalo, a long-time employee of WGN-TV, before retiring a couple of years ago. In this video clip, you can see Rick on his last day at work (2/6/15) chatting with the WGN Morning News team and showing off the very cart where this clip was extracted from.

The transfer work (no small feat, considering they have to take the cart apart in order to extract the 2" tape and mount it on a separate reel for playback) was done by the fine folks at DC Video of Burbank, CA.

Here's some close-up pictures of the cart, including a sticker on the inside that gives a date of 4/22/85. (The "J.E.W initials on the sticker stand for James E. Walters, a longtime engineer at WGN-TV who retired a few years ago)

Thanks also to our longtime Fuzzy Contributor Extraordinaire Mr. Chris Tufts, for donating the funds to get this cartridge transferred to digital.

"emergency action notification message #2 red card"

Voiceover by Floyd Brown.

"We interrupt our program at the request of the White House, this is the Emergency Broadcast System. All normal broadcasting has been discontinued during this emergency. This is Station WGN Television. This station will continue to broadcast, furnishing news, official information and instruction, as soon as possible, for the northeast section of Illinois. If you are not in the northeast section of Illinois, tune to a station furnishing information for your area. I repeat. We interrupt our program at the request of the White House, this is the Emergency Broadcast System. All normal broadcasting has been discontinued during this (spoken as 'the') emergency. This station will continue to broadcast, furnishing news, official information and instruction (spoken as 'instructions'), as soon as possible, for the northeast section of Illinois. If you are not in the northeast section of Illinois, tune to a station furnishing information for your area. Do not use your telephone. The telephone lines should be kept open for official use. The Emergency Broadcast System has been activated to keep you informed. To repeat. This is Station WGN Television. This station will broadcast news, official information and instruction for the Northeast section of Illinois. If you are in northeast section of Illinois, keep tuned to this station for further emergency information. It is important that you listen carefully to announcements only on the station broadcasting information for your area."

We can probably be thankful this didn't air, but if it did, it very well could have been on Monday, April 22nd 1985. (a.k.a., the date the world ended in Alternate Universe #4702-AA-23-QZ808)" /> Share

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Subcarrier 03/04/2017 Reply

I have a cart that was also used for the EBS. It was taken out of service when the EAS replaced it. It's labeled "National Emergency" and has a black plastic cover with diagonal stripes over the business end so it didn't get put on the air accidentally. The announce is similar to the clip- and it is chilling to hear. I played it on the prelisten bus on the MC switcher we were using at the time (CDL 990) which was probably a bit dangerous! After I heard it I threw it back in the rack as quick as I could.

Detroit4Chicago 03/05/2017 Reply

I believe this is not a RED CARD EAN (although judging by the label on the cart via Facebook, it does seen that way.)

I believe that this here was a standby script that was adopted by the FCC around 1972 when the Commission had changed some of the EBS/EAN procedures a year after the disastrous "wrong tape" incident at NORAD.
This also included the elimination of the EAN Message #1 ("White Card") and EAN Message #2 ("Red Card/Attack Warning") alert scripts. After the changes were made, you did not know what the heck was going on.

I think in this case, EBS #1 was the initial interruption announcement, use of the 22.5 second two-tone attention signal then the body announcement of the EAN. This clip from the cart, being marked EBS #2, may have been used for standby purposes when no Presidental "or his representative" address to the nation was available and everyone in the country was biting their nails and fidgeting.

My guess is that after 1981, the FCC (during the Reagan administration) and/or FEMA had given the "green light" for radio and TV stations to stay on the air and rebroadcast WGN Radio's EBS programming during an EAN request. I believe in turn, WGN would rebroadcast WLS (the EBS PEP; dunno..)

Before this, only key EBS radio stations (WGN and/or WLS) whom were allowed to stay on the air during an EAN would have been the only one(s) airing this script; everyone else would have been off the air after being ordered to cease broadcasting and to wait for the Emergency Action Termination to be given.

BTW (and on the same topic,) I'd like to know if anyone who worked at channel 5 have any knowledge if WMAQ-TV was a "Non-EBS" station during an EAN. (???)

Case in point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAsGpYMpn3s&list=PL4dCu1NpF8Sb-xR8_fV_XTD0ypUIwKsNT

Tommy33 03/06/2017 Reply

This is scary. 1985, the last throes of the Cold War. MX and Pershing II missiles. Our launch sites in WEST GERMANY. Before perestroika and glasnost. If you want to get really scared watch "Threads." Better yet, don't watch "Threads."

Detroit4Chicago 03/06/2017 Reply

My sneak preview guess of EBS Cart #3: "This concludes operations under the Emergency Broadcast System. All broadcast stations may now resume normal broadcast operations. I repeat....."

Szake 03/24/2017 Reply

In 2007, the script was updated. 47 C.F.R 11.54 says:

EAS #2
"This is an Emergency Action Notification requested by the White House. All EAS participants will follow activation procedures in the EAS Operating Handbook for a national level emergency. The President of the United States or his representative will shortly deliver a message over the Emergency Alert System."

"We interrupt our programming; this is a national emergency."

"This is an Emergency Action Notification. All broadcast stations and cable systems shall transmit this Emergency Action Notification Message. This station has interrupted its regular programming at the request of the White House to participate in the Emergency Alert System. During this emergency, most stations will remain on the air providing news and information to the public in assigned areas. This is (station call name). We will continue to serve the (EAS Local Area name) area. If you are not in this Local Area, you should tune to stations providing news and information for your Local Area. You are listening to the Emergency Alert System serving the (EAS Local Area name) area.
Do not use your telephone. The telephone lines should be kept
open for emergency use. REPEAT."

"We interrupt our programming at the request of the White House. This is the Emergency Alert System. All normal programming has been discontinued during this emergency. This is (station call name). This station will continue furnishing news, official information and instructions for the (EAS Local Area name) area. If you are not in (EAS Local Area name) area, you should tune to stations providing news and information for your area. It is important that you listen carefully to announcements
from the station in your local area. REPEAT."

EAS #3
"This concludes operations under the Emergency Alert System. All normal programming operations may now resume."

"This concludes operations under the Emergency Alert System. All normal programming operations may now resume. REPEAT ANNOUNCEMENT"

State and Local
"We interrupt this program because of a (State or Local) emergency. Important information will follow."

Monthly Test:
"This is a coordinated monthly test of the broadcast stations of your area. We are testing equipment that can quickly warn you during emergencies. If this had been an actual emergency such as (insert types of emergencies that may occur in the geographic area), an official message would have followed the alert tone. This concludes this test of the Emergency Alert System.