Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sigalert Stigmata

If you’ve ever spent any time in SoCA and listened to a traffic report, you’ve probably heard the term “Sigalert” once or twice. The official California Highway Patrol definition of a Sigalert is "any unplanned event that causes the closing of one lane of traffic for 30 minutes or more."

It turns out that Sigalert was named for Loyd C. Sigmon, a broadcast engineer and co-owner of KMPC-AM radio in Los Angeles. Sigmon developed a shortwave receiver and tape-recording device that would activate when it received a special tone sent out by the police dispatcher. When major accidents occurred, radio stations could record the information and then relay the news to their listeners. The first "Sigmon traffic alert" was broadcast over Labor Day weekend, on September 5, 1955.

But what really fascinated me about Sigmon is that he's a native of Stigler, Oklahoma, and in World War II was assigned to the Army Signal Corps. Coincidence? I don’t think so. In fact, I think Sigmon, originator of the Sigalert, was phonetically stigmatized.

1 comment:

Martha said...

LOL! Dare we even try to guess the name of Sigmon's Significant Other??