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Radio station broadcasting information about Clearfield

AM site to focus on emergencies, roads, weather, city events

CLEARFIELD — Clearfield now has its own official voice on the radio at AM-1680 on the dial, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Broadcasting emergency information is the primary purpose of the new noncommercial station, WQFG 871. But listeners can tune in any time of day to get information on road closures, road construction notices, weather alerts and a variety of current community events.

"It's for public information," Morton Sparks, Clearfield's emergency manager, who operates the station, said. "I'm very excited. We're still in the learning stages."

The station is owned and operated by Clearfield City Corp. and has been granted a highway advisory radio license by the Federal Communications Commission.

This license allows the city to broadcast with 10 watts of power day and night, which on most days will be strong enough for the signal to reach not only Clearfield but parts of the surrounding communities — particularly Layton, Sunset, Clinton and Syracuse. The license does not allow the station to air any type of advertisement.

Sparks said the station went on the air on Oct. 15. He recently did a survey — asking on the air for feedback. He received 20 telephone calls quickly, from as far away as Woods Cross. South Weber and parts of Weber County have also received the signal.

"We seem to have a better signal in the day," Sparks said.

The project began three years ago when Sparks decided it was time for the city to have an effective and reliable way to reach city residents with emergency or community-related information.

"What better way than to have our own radio station," Sparks said. "When we were looking at various ways to do this, the radio seemed to be the most effective way to reach the majority of our residents in the shortest amount of time."

Sparks is also a former Clearfield police chief.

The station cost $24,000 to start up, but its operating costs are minimal, unless any equipment fails. Sparks and a police officer are currently doing all the voice work. The transmitter is at a city shop facility.

Sparks said the station can go live but is usually running a loop tape. Whether City Council meetings or other events could eventually air on the station hasn't been addressed yet.

"It's doable, I just don't know what the quality would be."

West Point also has a limited emergency radio station, but Sparks believes it has never been used extensively. Otherwise, he feels cities operating such stations — at least in Davis County — are rare.

Carbon monoxide safety warnings and advice about winter safety are currently airing on the station. Sparks said information about the 800 North overpass closure will soon be added.

The one drawback to the station is its extreme right-hand dial location at AM-1680. Older radio sets stop at 1600. Newer radios go to 1710.

"That is a concern," Sparks said. "But there were no other free frequencies available."

The next phase of the radio project will be to add three to four siren towers, which will be strategically located throughout the city. When the sirens go off for an emergency, residents will know to turn their radios on to 1680 AM to receive emergency information.

For example, one day last year weather forecasters believed a tornado was headed for Clearfield. It didn't materialize, but Sparks said that chemical spills and other emergencies are exactly what the radio station and a siren system could help warn residents about.

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