County To Utilize OC’s Radio Stations

SNOW HILL — Worcester County will be partnering with the Town of Ocean City to make available important emergency bulletins and other announcements via the town’s two recently acquired FM radio frequencies.

While Ocean City has held a license for a low-powered AM radio station since 2009, it wasn’t until February when the town secured licenses for a pair of FM radio stations. The stations are already used for important town news and alerts and as of this week the county has entered into a formal agreement with Ocean City to piggyback on those two FM signals.

“The station located on Rt. 589, at 100.3 on the dial, has outstanding coverage in the Ocean Pines, Showell, Bishopville and Berlin areas,” wrote Fred Webster, director of Emergency Services for Worcester, in a memo to the commission.

Ocean City Emergency Services has offered to allow the county to post its own announcements to that FM station as well as the sister station of 99.5, which is housed at 65th Street in Ocean City. Announcements would be cast simultaneously on both stations and could cover a broad slice of categories. The bulletins will mostly be for emergency situations and could include: general preparedness information, evacuations, rabies clinics and outbreaks, unusual flooding situations as well as snow emergency plans that would affect travel on the Maryland highway system.

The stations have a wide range and could spread news quickly, something that’s vital during major emergencies. Besides crisis situations, the county would also be permitted to run non-emergency announcements in rotation with other bulletins issued by Ocean City. The town announcements will have priority during emergencies.

The information blurbs for non-emergencies could cover everything from the weather to criminal alerts to speed limit changes. According to Webster, Ocean City has already made great use of their two FM stations. They even use new signs that flash yellow whenever an important message is being broadcast so that motorists know to check one of the two stations.

The stations were used during the recent Route 50 Bridge malfunction to give drivers a heads up.

The commission voted unanimously to agree to a Memorandum of Understanding with Ocean City on the use of the FM signals. At this time, there will be no cost to Worcester with funding for equipment and the stations provided to Ocean City from the Department of Homeland Security.