Stray Signals

When the system crashes, radio is ready – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A Sarasota resident says when the inevitable apocalypse comes, a technology no less passe than the printing press just might keep civilization from completely unraveling.

SARASOTA — The man who saw the future was surprised to get this kind of response. The old newshound insists he wasn’t fishing for one.

On the off chance that anybody would even care, 91-year-old Bill Sexton had submitted his three-page obituary in advance, just to make it easier on the poor slob on the other end who might someday draw the short straw.

Included in the bio were references to his reporting for UPI, his stint at Newsday as editorial page editor and foreign correspondent, and a photo of Sexton with former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. The image shows Sexton towering over Deng as he signs Sexton’s copy of “Selected Works,” an anthology of the Communist potentate’s speeches and essays.

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Read more stories by Billy Cox

Sexton’s obit also alluded to an essay of his own, from a journalism trade journal in 1969. In it, he proposed “individually-tailored, computer-driven editions of daily papers as a response (to) the TV’s hijacking of print dailies’ ad revenue and audience.”

Although cyberspace was decades away, “digital technology existed for imprinting individual subscribers’ postal addresses on periodicals,” he noted. Sexton advocated “expanding the reserved digital space to accommodate articles of unique special interest to the addressee such as local government and sports news.”

That worked out well.

Sexton also wanted to leave readers with this: When the inevitable apocalypse comes, a technology no less passe than the printing press just might keep civilization from completely unraveling.

Radiowaves — America’s medium of choice … in 1935.

“In the event of a catastrophic hit on telephone systems, particularly cellphones, MARS is a backup to normal military communications, because it would be the only 50-state communications system independent of infrastructure,” Sexton says. “Everything else depends on Earth stations that can be put out of business in several ways.”

Bill Sexton would know this because, in 2016, he literally wrote the book on it — “Army MARS at 90: Helping Protect the Homeland.” For a decade or so, Sexton was the public information officer for a long-running but largely obscure network of volunteers skilled in ham radio. It’s called the Military Auxiliary Radio System, and its uncounted civilian members are ready to respond in the event of a digital infrastructure collapse or sabotage.

A nuclear

Read the full article at https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20200113/when-system-crashes-radio-is-ready. STRAY SIGNALS does not claim ownership of the article. The original author is responsible for the content of this post

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