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Guam hit by Super Typhoon, AM radio keeping the island going

If policymakers considering whether to require AM radio in cars are looking for fresh evidence of the role the band serves during emergencies, they only need to look at the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. That is where Super Typhoon Mawar struck Thursday. The Federal Communications Commission says that, as of today, all the AM stations remain on the air while three FMs and two television stations are out of service.

The FCC says based on information submitted to the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), it believes Pacific Telestations’ AC “Breeze 93.9” KUAM-FM, and Sorensen Pacific Broadcasting’s ethnic “99.5 The Shark” KZGU and rhythmic CHR “Power 98” KZGZ are dark. It also reports KUAM-TV and KTGM-TV are also off the air. The report is, however, based on DIRS filings which represent only a snapshot in time. That means other stations may be off the air, and the ones listed as silent may be back to broadcasting.

In a further bolstering of the overall role radio plays, the FCC has also granted special temporary authority to the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz Carrier Group to broadcast on commercial FM in Guam until May 31 to reach local residents and personnel stationed on the island.

The FCC says a majority of cell phone towers remain offline in Guam, although outages are down from a weekend peak when more than six in ten were dark. By far, the biggest culprit was loss of power, although a handful of towers were damaged. Cable and wireline companies also reported 4,959 subscribers out of service in the disaster area; which may include the loss of telephone, television, and internet services.

Mawar was the strongest storm to hit Guam in years, dropping over a foot of rain across the island with maximum sustained winds of at least 140 miles per hour. Similar to hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the Pacific typically form during the summer and early fall, with a season that runs through October.


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