Information is always good to have, but I’m scratching my head a bit over the National Park Service’s latest addition.
The agency recently went live with a low-power radio station that can only be heard within three miles of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Number 1670 on your AM dial, the tiny, 10-watt signal loops pre-recorded updates on visiting hours and information tidbits on the Capitol, the White House Visitors Center, the National Holocaust Memorial Museum and a few other federal buildings and museums. Also broadcast are details about volunteer programs and Junior Ranger programs.
Now, many parks broadcast information on similar low-power AM frequencies. Usually they offer helpful road, camping and weather information, as well as some details on park programs, that you can tune into as you’re driving into the park. But if you’ve ever been to the National Mall, you know that most people walk to it, aren’t looking for a campsite, and aren’t toting a transistor radio. While your kids might be armed with an iPod or similar MP3 player, I’ll bet they’re not tuning into the NPS.
And with this station on the air, does that mean the NPS will be cutting back its interpretive staff at the Mall? Who will field questions not answered by these canned radio segments?