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1610 AM Signals New Emergency Message Era in Westborough

Grant funds transmitter, antennas.

"Have you ever gone down the road and seen a roadside sign that says, 'For traffic information, tune to 1610 AM'?" Westborough Director of Public Health Paul McNulty asked selectmen Tuesday night.

A new Region 2 (Worcester County) Public Health Preparedness Coalition grant-funded AM radio transmitter and rooftop antennas are broadcasting from the Forbes Municipal Building, McNulty said.

"If Route 9 is blocked off for hours, people wonder what's going, (they're) stuck in traffic, they could tune to this, and hopefully, we would have a message on," he said.

The current "demo" message is a loop telling listeners to "tune into this station for emergency messages and other information" and airing around the clock, he said.

Listeners also are reminded about this Saturday's household hazardous waste day; Saturday's Arts in Common festivities; and Westborough Youth and Family Services' upcoming Depression Screening Day.

"Originally, I thought we would just use it for emergencies," McNulty said.

"But, we could go three years without some type of hurricane or storm. People are going to forget they even know (the AM station) is there."

McNulty said Westborough has four portable roadside signs reminding motorists about the station. The signs have space for Velcro labels: urgent, health and event, he said.

Town Manager Jim Malloy said the idea of installing permanent signs promoting 1610 AM was discussed during a recent staff meeting.

The health board, which received the grant, seeks public feedback on the system, officials said in a press release. Community members should call the board at 508-366-3045.

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Brent French September 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM
This is a great communication path if we have the kind of event that bogs down phone/tv/internet etc. In Afghanistan we gave small preprogrammed transistor radios to locals to help keep them informed. I'd love to see some grant money go towards providing town citizens with tiny radios. It would promote awareness of 1610 and help people in case of disaster.

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