The power of radio

Posted July 29th, 2011 in first responders, radio, spectrum and tagged , by Alton Drew

Communications is in the blood in my family. My brother served in the Signal Corp in the U.S. Army. My sister worked in broadcast television. I volunteered at a small radio station in the Virgin Islands while in high school. Today I still volunteer, this time with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, having manned radios on the ground and in the air.

Growing up in the Caribbean, you knew two things: First, the first week of school meant a hurricane was coming your way. Second, you better have a radio station in your community that you can rely on.

The video I’ve included in this blog post drives home that point. Radio stations serve a purpose greater than listening to Rhianna or Lady Gaga. They are the lifeblood of the community, ready to provide you with life saving information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The rains from Camille almost took my father’s life in 1969. I lived through hurricanes David and Frederick in 1979, and drove through the gusty winds of Hurricane Kate. Through all those events there was radio, keeping me and my family informed.

For these reasons, I believe policy makers should acknowledge the power of radio by ensuring that its channels are unencumbered by unnecessary interference.

So what is spectrum

Posted February 16th, 2011 in Broadband, FCC, Government Regulation, mobile telephone, NTIA, spectrum and tagged , , by Alton Drew

Sometimes we policy wonks and tech geeks get so comfortable inside the bubble that we forget that a growing number of our audience includes people who may not even know how a radio works and, I suspect, might not even have a radio. So, if my six regular readers will indulge me, I’d like to point you to two good sources that describe what spectrum is and how it’s used in communications.

The first source can be found at This link takes you to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s online description of the spectrum.

Another good site is located at The site is called HowStuffWorks. This is a good site particularly for those of us, myself included, who only get as geeky as an old Star Trek episode. It provides the same info as the NTIA’s site but is not as technical.

Just keep in mind that spectrum is a range of light. Some of it you can see. Some of it you can’t. This light moves in waves which is why radio signals can travel short or long distances.

As the FCC’s discussion of spectrum progresses, these resources will come in handy.