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Traumafessions :: Reader J.T.L. on the Emergency Broadcasting System

August 25th, 2010 by aunt john · 2 Comments

Growing up with dwindling vision is one thing. Growing up with said vision and hearing the EMERGENCY BROADCASTING SYSTEM testing every single day on PBS, sometimes more than twice a day, was enough to send me running.

My worst time though was when I was seven; my grandmother had come to stay for a while. I was eating breakfast at the table when the GARFIELD cartoon I was watching cut to the E.B.S. announcer. She said I ran like all of hell’s hounds were on my heels and refused to come out from under the bed for about an hour. I don’t blame me for doing it.

Also the test pattern, the SMPTE color bars, did it, and did it well. Let’s see, vertical hold notices, claw machines, I was quite the little coward.

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10 years ago

I had those EBS tests with the towers and that sound always un-nerved me.  I didn’t run out of the room but it was hard to sit through while waiting for some kiddie program to resume.  Other times a station would air the countdown signal with the color bars before the commerial would air.  The screen would go black either after a show’s segment or another commercial and suddenly the color bars, with a number “5” on the screen would show up and the #5 would count down to zero while this loud “BWOOP!!  BWOOP!!  BWOOP!!  BWOOP!! BWOOP!” would sound!  VERY bone-jarring indeed!  

10 years ago

I don’t think that was an unreasonable reaction at all. Its purpose is to inform you of impending doom, so of course you ran screaming. Hell, I still want to run screaming when those come screeching on the tube. Air raid sirens also bring that visceral reaction.  They could at least funny it up  with, “if this had been an actual emergency, you would be in deep shit!”.