National Emergency Alert Test: Total Failure?

Today, at 2 p.m. ET the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission held its first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.

While many viewers and listeners experienced the test without a hitch, as soon as 2 p.m. ET hit there were reports of problems in cities across the country. Some people never saw an alert, others said the audio was distorted and there were even claims that Lady Gaga’s song “Paparazzi” was playing instead of the correct audio.

On KABC-TV in Los Angeles, a screen flashed with the EAS graphic for several minutes, but there was never any audio or information given. When normal programming returned, the anchors’ microphones weren’t working.

The alert was supposed to run for about 30 seconds. However, for many stations it lasted much longer.

In Washington, D.C., WJLA-TV was stuck on the EAS slate for four minutes and WMAL-FM had dead air for nearly two minutes before the test finally ran. Once the test started, the audio was garbled.

WAPI in Birmingham, Ala., tweeted that the entire area had problems with the alert.

“Did not air on any station in our cluster, or any TV station in the market. Callers with DirecTV report seeing Lady Gaga,” the station wrote.

On the television feeds at ABC News’ headquarters in New York City, CNN ran a preview graphic saying, “Soon: Emergency Test Alert,” but the actual test never ran. Both ESPN and Fox News teased that the test was coming up, but it never happened. On MTV, it was afternoon programming as usual.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency released a statement saying data from the test was being collected.

“Only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies can we ensure an effective and reliable national emergency alert and warning system,” the statement said. “We … look forward to working with all our stakeholders to improve this current technology and build a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.”

ABC News’ Sarah Netter, Steven Portnoy and Alex Stone contributed to this report.