Confusion and even panic gripped thousands of television viewers in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Michigan this morning (10-24) when they received an “Emergency Action Notification” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, warning viewers to wait for further information from The White House on an active emergency. And apparently The Bobby Bones Show, iHeartMedia’s flagship Top 40 country radio show with a controversial host, was behind the mishap.
“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, as the warning forced televisions of U-Verse subscribers to tune to one specific channel and wouldn’t allow it to be changed.
After investigations by both AT&T and FEMA, it was determined that a nationally-syndicated radio show was the culprit in the accidental emergency message being sent out, and it eventually was traced it back to WSIX in Nashville, the flagship of The Bobby Bones Show which was on the air at the time the alert was relayed.
“This morning, there was an inappropriate playing of the national emergency alert notification tones on a syndicated radio broadcast,” FEMA spokesperson Rafael Lemaitre said in a statement. “There is not a national emergency. Today’s broadcast triggered alert notification in states where the alert has been played…FEMA and the FCC are currently working with broadcasters to determine the full scope of the situation.”
Tennessee Association of Broadcasters President Whit Adamson said in a statement, “We have discovered that this audio tone origination and possibly others was sent from WSIX-FM studios during the Bobby Bones Show in Nashville this morning and was evidently picked up by the Premiere Network program syndication in other markets.”
WSIX, and iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) have not commented on the situation, and Bobby Bones, who has been traveling today for a performance in Albuquerque, NM, has not addressed the incident.