Bobby Bones Show Emergency EAS Signal Results in $1 Million Fine

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It’s not just the music and radio skits that are bad noise coming from the nationally-syndicated Bobby Bones Show. On October 24th, 2014, the iHeartMedia syndicated morning show broadcast emergency EAS signals (the blaring fax-like sounds) out on their syndicated network, causing sheer panic to transpire in some communities as the signals were rebroadcast on television, showing some television viewers a message saying a national emergency was underway, and to stand by for a message from the White House.

“The station has interrupted its regular programming at the request of the White House to participate in the Emergency Alert System,” the message said in part, and warned viewers to keep telephone lines open for emergency use only. The message was seen by AT&T U-Verse customers in Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Detroit and other locations. Local viewers scrambled to figure out what the emergency was while the warning forced televisions of U-Verse subscribers to tune to one specific channel and wouldn’t allow it to be changed.

The inappropriate tone was discovered to come from WSIX-FM in Nashville—the home of The Bobby Bones Show. The Emergency Alert System was activated during a segment on the show where Bobby Bones was discussing a test of the EAS system during Game 2 of the World Series. As part of the segment, they played a YouTube clip over the air of a 2011 nationwide test of the system which included the tones to activate it and alert others to rebroadcast the signal. When AT&T’s U-Verse system received the signal, it immediately locked down subscriber’s televisions and displayed the warning of a national emergency.

Today, the FCC has fined Bobby Bones’ parent company iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) $1 million for the inappropriate and unauthorized use of the EAS tones. The company has admitted its culpability and has also agreed to institute a three-year compliance and reporting plan and eliminate EAS tones from its production libraries. “The public counts on EAS tones to alert them to real emergencies,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in a statement. “Misuse of the emergency alert system jeopardizes the nation’s public safety, falsely alarms the public, and undermines confidence in the emergency alert system.”

The Bobby Bones Show has grown into the biggest “country music” radio show ever through iHeartMedia vast radio empire. The show regularly stirs controversy, including high-profile brushups with Kacey Musgraves and Texas country star Aaron Watson.