CPB names first Next Generation Warning System grantees

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CPB announced Monday that it awarded grants to Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Fla., for upgrading equipment and providing enhanced emergency alerts.

The grants totaling nearly $386,000 are CPB’s first awards through its Next Generation Warning System program, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve public alerting systems. The program prioritizes public media stations serving rural, tribal and underserved communities.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting, a statewide network of eight television and eight radio stations, will receive up to $221,000 to upgrade its emergency alert system encoders “to expand the capacity of and geotarget its emergency alerts throughout the state.”

Indian River State College is the licensee of IRSC Public Media, which operates public radio stations WQCS, WQCP and WQJS. The licensee will receive up to $165,680 to purchase and install an HD transmission line and antenna to a tower in Okeechobee, Fla. It aims to improve its ability to broadcast emergency alerts and to expand its coverage to audiences in underserved areas.

“FEMA strives to provide trusted timely alerts and warnings to all people affected by threats,” said Antwane Johnson, director of FEMA’s integrated public alert and warning system, in the release. “The Next Generation Warning System grant program enables us to expand and improve this vital infrastructure to better prepare and protect underserved communities.”

“Public media stations have always played a vital role in emergency alerting in communities across the country,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in the release. “The Next Generation Warning System grant program will enable public media organizations such as Mississippi Public Broadcasting and IRSC Public Media to replace and upgrade their technology and infrastructure that enhances critical alerting and warning capabilities to help protect those communities.”

Approximately $34 million of the total $40 million funded for the NGWS in fiscal year 2022 will be awarded to stations. An additional $56 million was allocated to the initiative in FY23.

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