PBS Warn


WPBS’s transmission towers carry more than television programs

For over half a century, WPBS has beamed its broadcast signal across Northern New York from two transmitter towers located in Copenhagen and South Colton, NY. In addition to delivering the latest Masterpiece drama, Ken Burns documentary and Sesame Street episode to your home, at no cost — these two towers play another important role in serving residents of Northern New York. They are part of a state and national public safety grid that plays a critical role ensuring that weather officials, first responders and law enforcement agencies maintain communications, especially when disaster strikes.

Housing local, state and federal agencies’ communications systems, each tower is backed up with emergency generators and can run for hours after loss of commercial power. With fuel deliveries, WPBS transmission sites can remain powered indefinitely, providing critical communication support in the event of an emergency.

“The cost to build out a backup system for emergency communications from scratch would be astronomical,” says Dana Golub, a vice-president and director of PBS WARN, the backup network for nationwide wireless emergency alerting, which is broadcast throughout our region by WPBS’ transmission system. “The federal government’s investments to leverage the existing infrastructure of public television was a no brainer because our network already reaches 95 percent of the country.”

WPBS transmission sites also host equipment used by the FBI, local police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other local, state and national agencies.

As part of the federal government’s Emergency Alert System, WPBS is ready to serve. In the event of a national emergency, a special receiver located in WPBS’s network center, would override broadcasts to deliver vital information to the public. It’s tested weekly, and the federal government conducts nationwide tests periodically.

PBS WARN is funded by a Department of Commerce grant through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).