Disaster Information

Updated Sep 17, 2023 2:45 PM EDT

2024 DIRS Exercise

DIRS has been deactivated.

DIRS Exercise June 10~12, 2024

With the upcoming hurricane season, the FCC will be holding a DIRS exercise. This will help communications providers, including broadcast stations to better familiarize themselves with the DIRS reporting process and to update DIRS contact information. At this time, REC strongly suggests that all broadcast stations, especially those in the areas that are prone to hurricanes should participate in this exercise.

Since this year, the DIRS system has been on a new user interface. Therefore, we recommend that all broadcasters assure that they have access to the new DIRS system. Those who were in the legacy DIRS system with an existing CORES account do not need to create a new DIRS account. For those that already have CORES accounts (which all stations should have), your CORES username and password is used for DIRS.

The exercise will include a simulated event, commencing with the Bureau sending a mock activation letter on June 10th to all registered DIRS participants. The mock activation letter will provide a list of pre-selected counties that form the disaster area for this practice event. Providers will be asked to report data on any of their communications assets (e.g., broadcast, cable, satellite, wireless, and wireline) in the affected area. As this is only a simulated event, the Bureau does not expect to receive actual counts of outages. If a provider does not have any communications assets in the affected counties, it can still participate by reporting notional data for the pre-selected counties.

The FCC asks that event participants provide their initial data sets by 10:00 a.m. EDT on June 11th with an updated report filed by June 12th at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The Bureau will send a deactivation letter by 3:00 p.m. EDT on June 12th notifying participants that the simulated event has been completed.

Providers wanting to participate should email michael.caiafa@fcc.gov john.healy@fcc.gov by June 6th with the name of the provider (your organization's name) along with emails and phone numbers of all DIRS participants.

REC plans to activate our DIRS functionality for the mock disaster area during this exercise.

More information about using DIRS can be found in the FCC's DIRS User Guide.

FCC authorization required to make most emergency changes

LPFM and other broadcast stations needing to operate at a variance as a result of the hurricane can make the request informally to the FCC by e-mail or if necessary, by telephone. Electronic filings in  LMS should be made if possible.  

Examine your EAS logs

Even though LPFM stations are not required to carry required weekly tests (RWT), they are required to receive and log them.  This is a good time to make sure that your EAS radio receivers and your internet connection to IPAWS is properly functioning.  This way you are ready to deliver information to your community if/when your area's emergency agencies decide to break in with information.   

Operating outside your licensed parameters

Emergency antennas

§73.1860 allows FM stations to erect an emergency antenna at their licensed site in the event of a loss of the primary antenna.  This emergency construction does not require advance permission from the FCC however the FCC must be notified within 24 hours  of the construction.  REC recommends that you use Dale Bickel's information below unless the Commission or REC instructs otherwise.

The myth about increased power during disasters

In the past, we have seen situations where, during disasters, such as fires or hurricanes, LPFM stations started to operate at a higher power without prior authorization by the FCC.  Some may quote "regulations" that state that stations (as well as unlicensed stations) can operate out of tolerance in the event of an emergency.  While there is a regulation §2.405 that permits that for  some radio services, it specifically excludes broadcasting.  Other than the §73.1860 emergency antenna provision already discussed, §73.1250(g) of the rules states that the braodcasting of emergency information shall be confied to the hours, frequencies, powers and modes of operation on the station license.  There is  an exception for AM stations which permits them to use their daytime facilities at night for the transmission of emergency infromation.  

The FCC has, in rare cases, allowed LPFM stations to operate at higher power.  We saw that during Hurricane Katrina.  If you have a overly-compelling reason to operate more power, you must receive FCC permission first through a STA request.  In the Katrina case, it was a situation where virtually all of the full-service broadcast stations (AM and FM)  were disabled.  One LPFM station was fined in 2018 for increasing power during a distaster without authorization.  Again, we stress, no matter how necessary you may think it may be, don't believe the myth.  Ask for an STA, they FCC may say yes or no (expect them to say, no).

Requesting a Special Temporary Authority

All requests should include the technical parameters and contact name and phone number. 

Technical parameters should include:

  • Latitude and longitude of operation (if moving),
  • Radiation center antenna height (if changing),
  • Effective radiated power / transmitter power output.

Licensees are reminded that the Commission’s rules address operation during periods of emergency for licensees authorized under each of the rule parts for Broadcast Television Services, Broadcast Radio Services, and Multichannel Video and Cable Services. These service specific rules allow licensees to provide emergency communications during a period of emergency in a manner or configuration not specified in the station authorization or in the rules governing such stations.

For LPFM stations, if you are requesting a different site, please keep in mind that your power may need to be reduced or you may have to use the directional characteristic of your side mounted antenna (such as Nicom BKG-77 or BKG-88) in order to keep your temporary service contour inside of your primary service contour.  REC can assist with this.

How to request an STA or silent authority

CDBS is no longer used for the entry of Special Temporary Authority and requests for silent authority.  These requests should now be entered into LMS. 

https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/login.html

FCC Contact Information

For radio, STA requests should be filed if possible using the email process shown above. To receive an oral STA over the phone during business hours, FM/LPFM stations should contact Dale Bickel at 202 418-2706 dale.bickel@fcc.gov

Outside of business hours (over the weekend), contact the FCC's Operations Center at 202 418-1122 fccopcenter@fcc.gov

If your station has to go silent

If your station has to go completely silent (not broadcast at all), you may take your station silent.  If your silent period is expected to last at least 10 days, a notification of suspension of operations should be filed with the FCC.  This can be done using the email process shown above.  If your station plans to be silent for at least 30 days, then you need to file a request for a silent STA through the email process shown above.  By rule of law, any station that is silent for more than 365 consecutive days will result in cancellation of the station license.  In extreme stitutions, the FCC may have the authority to extend that.  This is something that REC can not give advice on and in those extreme cirumstances, you should consult a qualified broadcast attorney.  Once your station has returned to its authorized facility and is operating in compliance with the terms of the station license, then you will need to file a notification of resumption of operations using the email process shown above. 

Please note that silent STAs are granted for six months.  If you need to extend your STA after six months, you need to file the extension in advance (we recommend 3 weeks in advance).  Regardless of the expiration date of the STA, the 365-day rule of law overrides the STA expiration date.  

Contacting REC

If your station is already a past REC client with a minimum of $350 overall spend and your station needs to file a silent notification, silent STA, resumption of operations or an engineering STA to operate from a temporary location and the station is located inside an area that is subject to a DIRS activation, the request will be handled at no charge. If the station is not a past REC client with $350 minimum spend or in an area where DIRS has not been activated in, REC can handle these requests pursuant to the rates published in our current rate card. Deeply discounted rates are available for non-clients in DIRS activated areas.

REC Networks e-mail address: 

Telephone 202 621-2355 

From Puerto Rico: 787 334-3199

Michelle Bradley no habla español. Es posible que tengamos la capacidad de comunicarnos con alguien que hable español o, si es necesario, utilizar la traducción automática. Por favor, haga su primer contacto con REC en español utilizando la dirección de correo electrónico anterior. Esto nos permitirá responder a su solicitud lo más rápido posible.

The Federal Communications Commission will not charge any filing fees for non-commercial educational stations including LPFM stations.

We wish you the best and we'll be here if you need us!