We've all heard the tones. Sometimes on TV, other times on the radio. The older among us remember it as the Emergency Broadcast System (The
Although capable since the early 1950's, the system has never been used for an Emergency Alert Notification. That is the code used for the president to activate the system for a national address. That's about to change. Sometime in late 2011, the system will be tested.
Emergency management, FCC and FEMA types are concerned about an unwary public freaking out from the test. They plan two months of advanced notice and outreach to prepare the citizenry to hear the message. I think I hold a little more confidence in my fellow Americans... But remember the whole War of the Worlds thing.
I think this is a good thing. I find it amazing that the ability has existed for 60 years, but has never even been tested. If some national incident such as a wide-spread nuclear or other attack happens, the people will need to hear from the president, no matter who he happens to be at the time.