No, there were only the two tones, transmitted together. It was the announcement that came after the tones that determined what happened next.
Each station received a big red envelope every month that had to be kept next to the EBS receiver and sealed. It contained the authentication codes and stand-down codes for each day of the month. If there was an actual national emergency, the announcement received would have contained some wording like “Authentication Tango Quebec.” The operator on duty would break open the red envelope and if the authentication code matched, the station would activate their EBS and pass the message along. The station would then either join the originating station for a simulcast, or tell it’s listeners where to tune to hear the emergency and then go off the air. The emergency would have also been sent via AP and UPI newswires with the same authentication code.
Likewise the stand-down. When an emergency was declared over, the originating station would send the stand down code for the day, such as “Stand Down Yankee Kilowatt.” The operator would check that this matched, and if it did, that station could resume regular programming.
Exactly. Rebroadcasting a primary station, all primary stations would eventually be broadcasting the same thing, linking all stations in the USA in one big, over the air network not dependent on phone lines.
There was one or two primary stations in each defined market. All others were secondary stations and would have to go off the air in the case of a declared national emergency.
One more thing I just remembered. The priority of EBS alerts went in the order of national, local, state. So a local emergency would take precendence over a state emergency, while a national emergency would take precedence over either. Our study group was instructed to remember this precedence order by the mnemonic NLS, or Nice Long Schlong. Good thing this was before the days of sexual harassment suits, as about 25% of the class was female.
One additional comment. One of the jingle companies back in the 70s sent out a free sample of their stuff which included the whole EBS test (Check Rico’s spot-on transcription above). We played it for a couple of years before the novelty wore off.
I believe other companies picked up the idea or the originator did several variations Here’s a link to one version. It’s in RealAudio format. Click the link in the first paragraph. Happy memories.
Here’s a cross reference to ‘stuff you misunderstood a kid’. When I was little, and heard the ‘had this been an actual emergency’ I thought they were checking for emergencies, and I worried about the emergencies that happened while they weren’t conducting the tests.
The version we liked (definitely not for broadcast) ran somthing like, “If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to grab your knees, bend over as far as possible and kiss your ass goodbye.”
Well, Rico covered EBS in great detail, so I’ve nothing to add there. I do quibble with his memory of the test text. After the tones it ran: “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The brodcasters in your area, in cooperation with state, local and federal authorities, have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the attention signal you just heard would have been followed with official [and here my memory fails - something like “news, information and instructions”]. This station serves the _____ area. This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.”
If you’re wondering why secondary stations had to broadcast the tones: some companies did make EBS receivers for the consumer market. Not that I ever met anyone who had one.
Part of the test was for many stations to go off the air. This was back in the days of CONELRAD (control of electromagnetic radiation), when there was a concern that Soviet bombers would use broadcast stations as navigation beacons. There used to be marks on the dials of AM radios that showed you where to tune in the event of an emergency.
You’s welcome. I can’t imagine why I memorized the thing. Maybe I’m obsessive-repulsive or something. I voiced the test cart the station I worked for used - I use to joke about it being my only regular air time. (No, I didn’t do it in my Bullwinkle voice. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot!)