NPR Gets CPB Help To Improve Emergency Messaging


NPR will provide up to 30 stations across ten states with software and training to connect with the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) MetaPub delivery system. That’s all thanks for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which President Trump has suggested should be entirely de-funded by the Federal government.

The CPB has awarded a $419,000 grant to NPR, manager of the PRSS, to help public radio stations in “Tornado Alley” improve and expand their local emergency-messaging capabilities on mobile devices and other digital platforms.

Stations in the Midwest, South Central and Gulf Coast states will benefit from the grant.

The PRSS metadata technology gives public radio stations the ability 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 VP/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.”

NPR Distribution VP Michael Beach added, “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.