A year ago when KNSJ radio launched, the station promised to air our live wildfire and emergency alerts. Saturday is their anniversary party - please send a message TODAY asking them to honor this promise!
In the July 2013 Chariot Fire the station did go live and I reported on the fire on Mt. Laguna. For a few weeks, KNSJ aired our alerts with a delay of an hour or so, promising to improve technology to get real live alerts. Later KNSJ stopped airing wildfire alerts at all. I’ve pleaded with KNSJ to air Viejas Wildfire Alerts as promised, which we offer them free, to save lives and keep you safe. In the backcountry when power lines burn and some have no cell service, battery-powered radio is often the only way to get news during fires.
KNSJ’s CEO says having the federal emergency broadcast system in place is enough, but it’s not. It wasn’t activated during recent fires in East County. KNSJ's CEO and Board refuse to even guarantee a start date for alerts or an exact dollar figure that would guarantee these would air. They ask for more money, without delivering on promises made to donors who already gave to support getting alerts on the air. KNSJ also has zero live broadcasting, even for breaking news during fires.
TAKE OUR POLL AND SEND A MESSAGE TO KNSJ: Should the FCC ask KNSJ to keep its promise and air live Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts & have live news broadcasts during wildfires?
During yesterday's Banner Fire in Julian, our reporter, Nadin Abbott, was at the scene. Several residents complained that they did not receive calls using the 911-directory to advise them of evacuations. Despite efforts by Sheriff officials some residents still said they had no warning at all. With radio they would have a way to listen and get updates, even if their phones or Internet or electricity for TV etc. is not working.
Also, I feel compelled to dispel a false rumor that was deeply upsetting to me to hear today. This has NOTHING to do with funding for East County Magazine or Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts. We receive the same level of very generous sponsorship from Viejas to keep you safe each year--whether or not our alerts air on radio or not.
We thank and appreciate the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians for caring about keeping you, your family and neighbors safe and informed, and for their generous support that make our wildfire alerts possible.
Now we ask that KNSJ show this same level of concern for people living in areas at risk for wildfires. We have generously helped KNSJ with donations, organizing fundraising events and bringing in new members to support their public radio station. We believe these donations should have been used to resolve any remaining technical issues and assure that live alerts be aired. Other fledgling community radio stations have live broadcasts, and KNSJ surely can and should, too.
That said, KNSJ's CEO now says more funds are needed ($1,000 to $2,000) with no specific explanation of the technical challenges. If anyone wishes to donate to KNSJ for this purpose or assist with their engineering or equipment needs - and get a written guarantee from KNSJ that this time, donations would guarantee the alerts begin airing immediately, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with the station CEO.
Readers, if you care about wildfire alerts live during emergencies, please vote at the link above and then post your commments section below--and ask your friends to vote, too!
Miriam Raftery, Editor and Founder
East County Magazine and the Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts