simple analog shutoff drill, the FCC is planning to use Wilmington, North Carolina as the official test bed for the 2009 digital TV transition. Starting on September 8th, all four of the major networks in the greater Wilmington area (around 400,000 residents) will turn off their analog signals and broadcast digital only. As expected, a flurry of advertising will go down beforehand to get residents prepared, but given that they'll be out on the beaches all summer, who knows how many folks will actually pay attention. Interestingly, this trial is just as much about testing to see how many folks get prepared as it is about the technological changes, but broadcasters may still use the trial to move their antennas based on the need for coverage. So yeah, if the world implodes on September 8th, you'll know something went awry on the coast of NC.
[Image courtesy of usdol, thanks Robert]