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Dear  Readers:

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?

PLEASE VOTE HERE:  http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/poll/should-fcc-ask-knsj-keep-its-promise-air-live-viejas-wildfire-emergency-alerts-and-have-live-ne

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 editor@eastcountymagazine.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



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Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.


KNSJ Fire Alerts

As a broadcaster myself, KNSJ is worthless as far as emergency info. They are not required to be a part of the Emergency Broadcast Alert. KOGO AM 600 is the county emergency station so they would be responsible for this but their news team is a joke! As a ham radio operator, our team would be more reliable

KOGO has the most powerful signal which is why it is the

designated emergency broadcast channel.

That said, KNSJ 's station is tied in to the emergency broadcast network (the one you hear those test signals for) but that only covers the most major emergencies. 

We alert on far more through our East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts which you can sign up to receive via email and/or Twitter.

That said, KNSJ does have the ability to interrupt programming and go live if there's a truly region-wide emergency. They've done so a handful of times during major firestorms briefly but without adequate funds, it's not the best means for getting your emergency information at this point.

The station is better at reporting local news,  playing local music, etc. for programs that can be pre-recorded.  Maybe someday that will get better. They are trying to find a second signal location.  They actually got permission for one on tribal land but then the tribe decided it wanted to use that land for something else. 




Look at all the comments. I am amazed. 1) A 300 watt FM station in Descanso is worthless to anyone not with in a 20 mile radius. ( On a good day. ) 2) If you live in the back country you better learn how to take care of yourselves. 3) If you want to know whats going on fire wise. Get a scanner. Load a scanner app in your smart phone. Get your Amateur Radio ( Ham ) license. In any emergency: There will be no information on readysandiego. ( It's ALWAYS been that way channel 8! ) The information on all local media WILL BE WRONG. The information on government websites and social media feeds WILL PROBABLY BE WRONG. Who is John Galt?

signal strength can be boosted over time;

After 3 years on the air or so the station can apply to the FCC to boost its signal for broader reach. But even now, on good days it can be heard all the way to the coast and as far east as Imperial Valley, much farther than 20 miles because the transmitter is on a 6,000 foot high peak. There is also an online feed for KNSJ that people could hear on a cell phone or anything with an internet connection - you could plug it into your car charger to hear it while you're evacuating, for instance. That scan, scanners are also very valuable tools for those who can afford them, and there are scanner aps that can be downloaded. But you still have to know to turn on the scanner, and an alert heard on radio (or received via our existing email and Twitter alerts) can give people a heads-up that an emergency is underway.

Community Radio Should Air Viejas Alerts

Having a family homestead in Julian, I know that news about wildfires is important! The current fire is below our Kentwood homestead in Whispering Pines area. I eagerly await any information that is shared on any media. A community radio is the best, because we have access to it, even if there is no electricity in area. We can use battery-powered radios to hear the latest! Our area has had major wildfires over the past two decades, especially during 2003 and 2007. It is heartless to say the least to withhold such important information on a COMMUNITY radio!! If I recall correctly, the Red Cross did something like this to us during a wildfire awhile ago. The Red Cross used money raised for wildfire victims for another purpose. I think the local head or board stepped down as a result. Thereafter, money raised for specific uses was used as promised in the fundraising appeals.

Press release on alerts KNSJ sent out July 8 2013

The last line in this KNSJ release sent to all local media last year is clearly a promise that you could count on our wildfire alerts on their station. (Note after I saw this release I clarified with KNSJ that they should refer to Viejas Wildfire Alerts whenever these alerts are mentioned. They agreed to that too in a later email but clearly they promised to run these alerts- and DID run them during the Chariot Fire, with the name "Viejas Wildfire Alerts" on the air. This press release promised you could "rely" on KNSJ for up to date and factual info during fires) So why is the CEO backpedaling now and claiming the emergency broadcast system is all they need to do? It isn't activated during our wildfires. This is why the station needs to hear from you, from people who would listen to these alerts and appreciate if they were on the air. If KNSJ wants to build community support (not lose it) they should run these. Note: we have no financial gain or loss if they run them or not. This is ALL about keeping you safe and informed. Press Release: July 8, 2013 Chariot Fire Posted on July 8, 2013 by knsj July 8, 2013: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Chariot Fire photo by Nadin Abbott Chariot Fire photo by Nadin Abbott Contact: 619-283-1100 • info@knsj.org KNSJ Radio Provides Prompt Wildfire Service Alert for Chariot Canyon Fire; Wastes no time stepping up to serve the community. SAN DIEGO – KNSJ 89.1 FM Descanso, San Diego County’s newest 5 day old FM radio station, wasted no time showing other local media outlets what prompt coverage looks like, being one of the first sources to report on the Chariot Canyon Fire that began burning near Julian around 1:00 pm Sat, July 6. By 1:30 pm, KNSJ and their news partner East County Magazine (operator of the Viejas Wildfire and Emergency Alerts) broadcasted a wildfire alert over the airwaves warning East County residents of the (at that time only 50 acre) fire burning in the area, and posted an article on the ECM website http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/13560 KNSJ reporters were on the scene Sunday afternoon and evening following the situation closely and will continue coverage of the Chariot Canyon Fire Monday, July 8 at 8 am in the KNSJ morning news show and through out the day as needed. With temporary closures on the Sunrise Highway, mandatory evacuations, and the wind changing the direction of the fire in minutes, KNSJ’s prompt and continuous detailed coverage of the Chariot Canyon Fire provides pertinent and timely information to keep residents near the fire safe and calm in a tumultuous situation. The fire spread to 1,400 acres by 8:45 am Sunday, with mandatory evacuations called by 12:30 pm, yet most local media outlets were still not covering the fire until later Sunday afternoon. Not even the free San Diego County emergency phone app was updated with the news as of 1:30 pm Sunday, when the fire was nearing 1,700 acres. As of 4:30 am Monday the emergency app says the last update is from 1:11 pm Sunday, and gives outdated information about the closure of Sunrise Highway and one of the evacuation sites. The KNSJ Radio wildfire and emergency alerts provides a new public service that San Diego residents can rely on for accurate and up to date information during wildfires and other emergencies. - See more at: http://knsj.org/about-knsj/press-releases/#sthash.AijqALxS.dpuf

KNSJ's Failure to Perform

KNSJ was billed as a community radio station gaining FCC approval for its broadcasts [under the auspices of Activist San Diego (ASD)] from Descanso for the local East County area. Now, that it won this approval, it seems that East County interests are far from its thinking. Accepting donations for a specific service and failing to perform that service is a breach of contract! So, KNSJ should return the donated funds to the donors immediately! Anyone who donates to an organization that fails to perform is failing to consider the previous actions of the organization! Failure should not be rewarded!

KNSJ Dereliction of Duty

Saying the Emergency Broadcast System is sufficient to serve the needs of the local area for things like fire and flood info is both ignorant and callous. You presented yourselves as community based and community minded. This refusal to help the community in such a basic way just makes no sense to me, either commercially (such great PR to basically give your local community the middle finger!) or in terms of your humanity and compassion. You have , at this point, totally alienated and lost two listeners (my wife and I) and you bet we will do what we can to spread the word about your reneging on your promises--and promises, no less, that, when fulfilled, have the potential actually to save life!

comment from Chris Carmichael

Chris Carmichael emailed this comment for KNSJ, which I'm posting here on his behalf: I am very disappointed that a station that bills itself as a local community radio has not aired these urgent means. We live in a special area and sometimes new technology phones, tablets and online streaming are a very poor replacement for live reports of potential life-threatening weather or other calamity. The CEO’s answer, as reported in the email, is typical of a big corporate owned radio station. That was everything you claimed not to be. Radio is the medium that people jump to when in harm’s way. I urge KNSJ to reconsider this serious lapse of judgement and provide updates to those in East County. YOU ARE OUR ONLY local radio source. The other station is a repeater out of northern California — which leaves KNSJ the only local station. Be the difference KNSJ. As reported, in the East County Magazine, I am very disappointed that the station has taken a very dim view of NOT broadcasting these alerts. EAS doesn’t cut it, a live mic with reports do. Sincerely, Chris Carmichael

East County Emergency Alerts - KNSJ

These alerts - fire, winds, or other disasters - fall into the Public Service Announcement category of things radio, TV and other media are required to do - or do because they want to. Besides the FCC, I'm sure the County Board of Supervisors, especially Diane Jacob, would urge that KNSJ to do as East County Magazine, the U-T, and San Diego 2-1-1 already do.


We in rural east county often times do not know the status of a wildfire in our community. I have called 211 and they did not have a clue what was happening. We need for KNSJ to honor the promises that were made and continue to give us live wildfire alerts. If KNSJ does not why should we contribute funds to their support? Claudia Millerbragg

If you want fire alerts on the radio post your comments here.

Are you a fire survivor? Fire Safe Council member? Firefighter or fire chief? Do you live in East County, the area KNSJ is supposed to serve per its FCC license? Or in San Diego and concerned about wildfires in your area too? (Our alerts cover wildfires countywide). If so please post your comments here and we will pass them along to KNSJ's leadership. Thanks.