All TV and radio stations were meant to have a 30-second break at 2pm ET for the test. (Usually these tests, which most people are familiar with, are administered on a local level.) For many, that happened. But according to ABC News, some said they never saw anything, others said the audio was “distorted,” and some DirecTV customers said they heard Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” instead. For some reason, this is giving us massive giggles right now. Seriously people, you’re making that up!**
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission handled the test, which didn’t include the Internet or mobile devices. Officials from both organizations had expected things to go smoothly (of course). But, in a press release, FEMA stated they wanted to test to make sure everything works as it should and to be alerted of anything that needs to be fixed.
“I think the biggest reason nobody ever tested it was because of all the concerns of what could happen and what could go wrong,” FEMA chief Craig Fugate told CNN. Ha!
In a statement after the test, the agencies stuck to that message about testing and analyzing, but the failures could serve as a bolster for critics who worry that the system is too old to handle modern needs. The agencies would have been well-served by having a better comms plan in place in case of this sort of test failure. And we would love an explanation of the Lady Gaga snafu.
** Turns out this funny little happening is true according to the Twitter and our commenter below. We’ve seen a couple of people confirm that, indeed, they heard “Paparazzi” during the FEMA/FCC test of the emergency system. I can’t.