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(CONELRAD)   42 years ago today the National Emergency Warning Center mistakenly sent out an emergency warning message that sent the public into a panic. With audio of the alert from WOWO radio in Ft. Wayne Indiana   (conelrad.blogspot.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, Emergency Warning, Partridge Family, strategic communication, John Kennedy, emergency  
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10320 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Feb 2013 at 9:50 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-20 08:32:40 AM  
lh4.ggpht.com

Thankfully, his fivehead saved us all.

Reporting from the Group W Bench, this is Bob Sievers.
 
2013-02-20 09:04:54 AM  
"CONELRAD"?

Jesus, Subby, did they teach you how to duck and cover in school?
 
2013-02-20 09:10:23 AM  
All this stuff seems so silly and pointless now.  Theatre designed to preserve the illusion that it would be possible -- or even desirable -- to survive a full-scale nuclear attack.  Judging from the performance of the EBS in this false alarm, the US would have been a smoldering crater before any useful information got out anyway.
 
2013-02-20 09:28:40 AM  

FirstNationalBastard: Jesus, Subby, did they teach you how to duck and cover in school?


Not really. I was about 10 years behind the whole "Duck and Cover"  thing. By the time this happened (I was 8) we did "disaster drills" instead. I'm thinking that it was generally accepted that if (or when to many) if happened we'd all be farked so why bother. But they still did the weekly EBS test for as long as I can remember.  The funny thing is, that I never really remember being "scared" about the bomb even in the 80's when e were being told that Ronnie Raygun was intent on starting a shooting war.

/subby
//Cold War junkie
 
2013-02-20 09:31:08 AM  

jake_lex: All this stuff seems so silly and pointless now.  Theatre designed to preserve the illusion that it would be possible -- or even desirable -- to survive a full-scale nuclear attack.  Judging from the performance of the EBS in this false alarm, the US would have been a smoldering crater before any useful information got out anyway.


I wonder what the ICBM flight time was in 1971.  In 1981, per The Day After, it was like 40 minutes from first strike launch to response strike detonation.
 
2013-02-20 09:39:48 AM  
David Skinner, the news director of WEVA in Emporia, Virginia recalled the experience for a reporter:

images2.wikia.nocookie.net
 
2013-02-20 09:44:46 AM  

I_C_Weener: I wonder what the ICBM flight time was in 1971.


I think the bigger concern was the SLBMs. If you look at the history of SAC bases, the shift from massive operations like Loring, Carswell, Barksdale etc were dispersed to "smaller and smaller"* fields like Clinton Sherman and Glasgow (Glasgow remained a dispersal point until the mid 70s) because of the submarine threat.


*If you can call 13,500 ft runway "small"
 
2013-02-20 09:45:20 AM  

I_C_Weener: In 1981, per The Day After, it was like 40 minutes from first strike launch to response strike detonation.


Dammit, that movie still freaks me out.

I don't remember doing any drills (in elementary school in the early 80s). Guess they figured we were close enough to enough major population centers that it would be pointless. Or maybe they hated us. That's possible too.
 
2013-02-20 09:50:59 AM  
This is the emergency broadcast system, bend over and kiss you ass goodbye.
 
2013-02-20 09:57:17 AM  
www.dpvintageposters.com
 
2013-02-20 10:01:13 AM  

BunkoSquad: I_C_Weener: In 1981, per The Day After, it was like 40 minutes from first strike launch to response strike detonation.

Dammit, that movie still freaks me out.

I don't remember doing any drills (in elementary school in the early 80s). Guess they figured we were close enough to enough major population centers that it would be pointless. Or maybe they hated us. That's possible too.


We had a four minute warning system...they didn't bother with any drills or anything that I remember.
 
2013-02-20 10:02:54 AM  
i1151.photobucket.com
Dad, do you think it might have been a false alarm?

Not with Nixon in power, son. That man's a beacon of truth!
 
2013-02-20 10:03:04 AM  
I was working when it came in, grabbed the envelope that contained the "authenticate" codes, ripped it open, and found the envelope was empty.  We figured right away it was a mistake because it came at the regular test time, and basically ignored things from that point.
 
2013-02-20 10:06:46 AM  

Dancin_In_Anson: *If you can call 13,500 ft runway "small"


blogs.defensenews.com
13,500'? Must be nice.
 
2013-02-20 10:06:49 AM  

Dancin_In_Anson: /subby
//Cold War junkie


I figured it was you. You got your copy of Atomic Platters from CONELRAD, yet?

BunkoSquad: I_C_Weener: In 1981, per The Day After, it was like 40 minutes from first strike launch to response strike detonation.

Dammit, that movie still freaks me out.

I don't remember doing any drills (in elementary school in the early 80s). Guess they figured we were close enough to enough major population centers that it would be pointless. Or maybe they hated us. That's possible too.


One of my favorite movies. Then again, I own just about every Cold War movie that was made. There's a few missing from my collection, but I'll have them someday.

The only drills we did in school were tornado drills. Being 20 miles from Carswell AFB, the old duck and cover routine would've been useless.
 
2013-02-20 10:10:05 AM  
My Dad's plan (he'd been Army in the 60's) during the Cold War (I was around for the 70's and 80's) if it went hot was for the family to take a cooler with soda and beer up to the roof, put on sunglasses, and enjoy the show.


/because the survivors would envy the dead
 
2013-02-20 10:11:22 AM  
On air, I read the text after the EBS tests a bunch of times. I still remember it:

This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  The broadcasters in your area, in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information.  This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.
 
2013-02-20 10:13:06 AM  
great find thanks
WOWO was an incredible station misses Young Chris, Ron Gregory and all.
 
2013-02-20 10:15:59 AM  
CONELRAD. Good times. Last I recall hearing of it was a Philip K. Dick novel.
 
2013-02-20 10:16:42 AM  
now I want to buy a DeHaven Chevrolet and eat some Penguin Point chicken.
 
2013-02-20 10:16:50 AM  

PacManDreaming: One of my favorite movies. Then again, I own just about every Cold War movie that was made. There's a few missing from my collection, but I'll have them someday.


If you have a list handy and it's no trouble, EIP - I'd love to see what is missing from my own collection.
 
2013-02-20 10:20:32 AM  

fustanella: CONELRAD. Good times. Last I recall hearing of it was a Philip K. Dick novel.


My first exposure to it was that Quantum Leap episode where Sam leapt back to Florida just days before the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
2013-02-20 10:22:21 AM  
s3.amazonaws.com
Good movie. Could be redone as a psychological horror flick.
 
2013-02-20 10:22:28 AM  
Amazing that after all was said and done the issue that caused this error was fixed, and people went back about their jobs and lives. The political climate is so poisonous today that no one would hear anything else until one party or the other could have laid blame at the Commander in Chief's feet.

/is Hatefulness a scandal yet?
 
2013-02-20 10:24:41 AM  

NutWrench: [www.dpvintageposters.com image 417x550]


When I was a kid, my cousins had that poster in their bedroom.
 
2013-02-20 10:25:52 AM  

BarefootInTheFark: Amazing that after all was said and done the issue that caused this error was fixed, and people went back about their jobs and lives. The political climate is so poisonous today that no one would hear anything else until one party or the other could have laid blame at the Commander in Chief's feet.

/is Hatefulness a scandal yet?


the-simpsons.maxupdates.tv

Is Cheyenne Mountain a Scandal yet?
 
2013-02-20 10:28:50 AM  
Why did the display the message in yellow type? Damn that was hard to read.
 
2013-02-20 10:38:11 AM  

Gleeman: My Dad's plan (he'd been Army in the 60's) during the Cold War (I was around for the 70's and 80's) if it went hot was for the family to take a cooler with soda and beer up to the roof, put on sunglasses, and enjoy the show.

/because the survivors would envy the dead


Same here except my old man was Air Force. We lived 5 minutes from the old McDonnell-Douglas fighter factory and after the whole "The Day After" thing he said not to worry. He claimed the Soviets had so much pointed at us we'd surely be vaporized multiple times over.
 
2013-02-20 10:38:32 AM  

Hack Patooey: On air, I read the text after the EBS tests a bunch of times. I still remember it:

This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  The broadcasters in your area, in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information.  This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.


CSB time:

The radio station I worked for in College had a cart with 2 cuts on it - one for the message before the tones, and one for after. The Program Director neglected to tell me that the other station in the building shared the EBS tone generator, and I had to hit a delegate switch first. When mashing the buttons didn't make the tones work, I opened the mic and said "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE"

The PD came in and asked me to make sure to have Engineering look into what the hell was wrong with the tone generator later.

\I nearly beat him to death
\\he didn't believe I had done that until I showed him, and then he lost it
\\\I was interning as an Engineer then, and was just working occasional board shifts 'cause I knew how, and they paid me
\\\\it's fun working radio when you don't have to worry about a lousy grade or getting fired for what you do or say
 
2013-02-20 10:41:42 AM  
This made us just angry as hell. You can't play around with things like this. If we had gone on the air and broadcast this alert as being from the President of the United States, some old people would have checked in right then.

So, you ignored the authenticated warning?  Interesting.
 
2013-02-20 10:46:08 AM  
Back in my radio days, was bored on a night shift, started digging through old cabinets in the production studio.  I found two very old carts (tape cartridges) marked "Yellow Card Alert" and "Red Card Alert".   I wish I had recorded them.  Had to be from the 50s.  The yellow card was pretty tame.   Red card?  Pretty spooky listening to it in a semi-dark room about midnight.  "This is a red card alert.  The United States is under nuclear attack.  I repeat, the United States is under nuclear attack.  Please report to your nearest fallout shelter..."   I had to report to the nearest bathroom.

Okay, radio people who happened to be musicians too.  How many of you named bands by ripping open the envelope and picking two words?

/Whiskey X-Ray, Tango Charlie, Foxtrot Echo
 
2013-02-20 10:48:34 AM  
3.bp.blogspot.com
Nevermind.
 
2013-02-20 10:52:12 AM  
THIS is why nobody listened to those farking things in the first place. All they ever did was motivate me to change the farking channel. They still run them on the terrestrial repeaters for my satellite radio, and they still get ignored.
 
2013-02-20 11:01:07 AM  
I grew up in Fort Wayne and remember this. I was 10 and watching the television when the alert sounded and the screen turned to snow. It was more of an annoyance than anything for a foolish child. My parents always listened to WOWO every morning. This was no exception. They were calm but edgy about the entire episode.

/end csb
//my lawn, you know the drill
 
2013-02-20 11:09:40 AM  
WOWO radio used to cover the eastern US and maritime Canada a night. The station was castrated down to a highly directional 9.8kw at night by some operator out of NYC so their black gospel station, WLIB could have night time service to screech out preachers and gospel music. Sorry, used to like WOWO and the ol' fire escape at night, so I'm a little bitter.
 
2013-02-20 11:10:25 AM  

Gleeman: Dancin_In_Anson: *If you can call 13,500 ft runway "small"

[blogs.defensenews.com image 850x874]
13,500'? Must be nice.


X-47B on board. Niiiice.
 
2013-02-20 11:11:36 AM  
As a longtime radio guy, I was intrigued by the carts Rickenbacker mentioned above - they were indeed spooky.  The one that really piqued my curiosity that I could never get to the bottom of, however, was the sealed envelope in the studios of the stations I worked for that were owned by the Mormons.  At the time, they owned stations that ringed the entire US, and upon the reappearance of Jesus, all stations were to put the tape on.  If anyone opened the envelope prematurely they were to be terminated.

Wish I had - it would have been worth it.
 
2013-02-20 11:14:26 AM  
As a child of the '70's/'80's (I was 12 days old when this happened), I very much recall the ominous feeling surrounding the Cold War. As a news-junkie kid, I remember being VERY concerned about this kind of thing, especially with RR's sabre-rattling vs. the CCCP.

Red flash clouds choking out the morning sky
They said it'd never come, we knew it was a lie
All forms of life die now, the humans all succumb
Time to kiss your ass goodbye, the end has just begun
Distorted figures walk the street, it's 1999
Weeds once underneath your feet have grown into vines
Bodies melted like a candle, a land without a face
No time to change your fate, no time left, it's too late
The arsenal of Megadeth can't be rid they said
And if it comes, the living will envy the dead
Racing for power, and all come in last
No winning first stone cast
This falsehood worldly peace
It's treaties will soon cease
No one will be left to prove that humans existed
Maybe soon the children will be born open fisted
We all live on one planet it will all go up in smoke
Too bad they couldn't see
This lethal energy
And now the final scene
A global darkening
Dig deep, the piles of rubble and ruins
Towering overhead both far and wide
There's unknown tools of World War III
Einstein said, "We'll use rocks on the other side"
No survivorsSet the world afire
No survivorsSet the world afire
 
2013-02-20 11:15:42 AM  
You mean that my parents locked me in this bunker 42 years ago for NO reason!?!?
 
2013-02-20 11:20:10 AM  
At some point along the way, local stations in my area started activating the EBS for weather related stuff, like tornado warnings.  There was something in the news about it apparently when they decided to do it, but I had been living in California at the time and didn't get the change.  A few years later, I moved home again and one particular afternoon there was the BEEEEEEEEEP on the radio and the EBS had been activated.  Having grown up during the Cold War, my immediate reaction was something along the lines of "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...".  I'm also pretty sure asshole puckered to the point of nearly becoming a naked singularity.  Eventually someone came on air and announced that there was a tornado warning in effect for a nearby county.  A sense of relief followed and then anger.  "Ok, tornado, but that's not anything like a nuke going off over my head, WTF!!!"

/This story brought back that memory.
//Odds are the people in the path of that tornado may have been not seen the difference between that and a nuke in terms of damage, but damn....
 
2013-02-20 11:22:02 AM  

hdhale: At some point along the way, local stations in my area started activating the EBS for weather related stuff, like tornado warnings.  There was something in the news about it apparently when they decided to do it, but I had been living in California at the time and didn't get the change.


I had the same experience coming from California when a flash flood EBS went out
 
2013-02-20 11:24:03 AM  

Hack Patooey: On air, I read the text after the EBS tests a bunch of times. I still remember it:

This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  The broadcasters in your area, in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information.  This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.


Ahh.. that takes me back.

/Read it many times as well.
 
2013-02-20 11:31:40 AM  
Anyone remember the Conelrad symbols on the low and high end of the dial on older AM radios?

Heh! Spellcheck does not recognize "Conelrad"!

/off my lawn!
 
2013-02-20 11:32:44 AM  
 
2013-02-20 11:35:24 AM  

BigDogDude: As a longtime radio guy, I was intrigued by the carts Rickenbacker mentioned above - they were indeed spooky.  The one that really piqued my curiosity that I could never get to the bottom of, however, was the sealed envelope in the studios of the stations I worked for that were owned by the Mormons.  At the time, they owned stations that ringed the entire US, and upon the reappearance of Jesus, all stations were to put the tape on.  If anyone opened the envelope prematurely they were to be terminated.

Wish I had - it would have been worth it.


Wow.  I would have done it...once I had my next gig lined up, of course!   I had never heard of that.
 
2013-02-20 11:37:04 AM  
I always thought that 10 AM on the first Tuesday of the month would be the ideal time for $ENEMY_DU_JOUR to launch a first strike. Around here at least that's when they test the sirens.

Then again, that would also be the worst time for a tornado to make its appearance... a far more likely event.

/have seen funnel clouds up close and personal
 
2013-02-20 11:39:54 AM  

Pick: Anyone remember the Conelrad symbols on the low and high end of the dial on older AM radios?

Heh! Spellcheck does not recognize "Conelrad"!



I still have an old Zenith (circa 1958) with them. It hasn't been run in years, though, so the capacitors are likely to be shot, assuming the tubes are still any good in the first place.
 
2013-02-20 11:43:13 AM  

FirstNationalBastard: "CONELRAD"?

Jesus, Subby, did they teach you how to duck and cover in school?


Actually, "Duck and Cover" might have some use.  Look at that meteor in Chelyabinsk:  How many people could have avoided being injured by flying glass if they had "duck and covered" when they saw the extremely bright flash?
 
2013-02-20 11:48:13 AM  

Rufus Lee King: [4.bp.blogspot.com image 850x637]


"I'm watching a real boring movie about Indians"
 
2013-02-20 11:55:02 AM  

Shadow Blasko: Hack Patooey: On air, I read the text after the EBS tests a bunch of times. I still remember it:

This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  The broadcasters in your area, in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information.  This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

Ahh.. that takes me back.

/Read it many times as well.


I read it a few times myself.....almost got fired for playing the "singing EBS test" from the Cheap Radio Thrills service.  It ended with a girl singing "Did you pass?"    The GM didn't think I was taking my job seriously enough
 
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