This Is Not A Test

June 21, 2018 10:03 PM

Origin story.

the Emergency Broadcast System
was established in 1963
so the President of the USA
could communicate in an emergency
in the event of a war or threat of war
they’d relay to a teletype machine
with the ringing of ten bells it would print
a row of X’s that no one had ever seen

that would trigger a two-tone signal
of 853 and 960Hz
it’s an interval real unpleasant
to the human ear

a taped announcement would interrupt a show
for one whole minute when weekly tests would run
the only time it was accidentally used:
a false alarm back in 1971
when someone chose the wrong message to transmit
but nothing happened and nobody was hurt
the test continued ’til 97 when
it was replaced by Emergency Alert

this is all public information
available on request
it’s only here for your entertainment
this is not a test

posted by chococat (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Thank you for the nostalgia flogger, chococat... in the late 1970s when I was writing jokes for disc jockeys, one of my most popular (and minor money-making) things was a series of bits based on the Emergency Broadcast System tests.
the first one simply went...
"This is a test. This only a test. If this had been a pop quiz, you would have allowed to refer to your notes. This has been a test."
others ranged from "For the next 60 seconds, you will be allowed to get very testy" to "If this had been a blood test, you would have been instructed to not eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior".
Good times...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:09 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Awesome! :-)
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:14 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


This is so good. The little break during the first chorus. The bass sound. The lyrics. Well done.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:38 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I heart this. Now I'm off to find the equivalent historical information for the tornado sirens I grew up with.
posted by umbú at 7:55 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Very informative.
posted by Bluebird Wine at 8:28 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


Are you and Umbu (see above song) secretly working on a political concept album? I hope so.
posted by Corduroy at 2:09 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I can’t, due to the stiff US Musical Collaboration tariffs imposed on me because I’m Canadian.
posted by chococat at 8:45 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


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