Radio Guides The Public Through Hurricane Sandy, Now The Recovery Begins
October 30, 2012 at 11:12 AM (PT)
HURRICANE SANDY has left behind a trail of sadness with 14 dead in the U.S., one in CANADA and 67 in the CARIBBEAN. Damages are into the many billions of dollars across 13 states and D.C. due to the wind, rain, flooding and trees falling, and there are nearly 6.5 million customers without power -- and in many cases, radio was the sole lifeline of information to the public.
WALL STREET is still closed, as are the NYC subways, schools and many businesses TODAY in the affected states, which are still feeling those strong winds as SANDY moves farther inland.
Today, it's the assessment of damages as radio continues the job of letting the public know what's going on as services return to normal, and the outreach to those in the community displaced by HURRICANE SANDY begins.
Here's what happened in NEW YORK CITY:
Last night CCM+E/NEW YORK went dark at 9:13p (ET). Even iHEARTRADIO.com was down for a while. WKTU morning man PAUL "CUBBY" BRYANT will take you on an eerie journey through the darkened studios when you click here.
And, WKTU afternooner HOLLYWOOD HAMILTON offers an even longer blackout tour of the CCM+E/NEW YORK studios, and a look outside at the blackout.
During the storm, CBS RADIO News WINS-A/NEW YORK lost its AM signal due to technical difficulties and told listeners to tune to the 101.1 FM signal of sister Classic Hits WCBS-F for a simulcast, but moved to the 92.3 FM signal of Top 40 WXRK (92.3 NOW FM) instead.
ESPN Sports WEPN-A (ESPN NEW YORK 98.7 FM) and Spanish Sports WEPN-A (ESPN DEPORTES NUEVA YORK 1050 AM)/NEW YORK are still simulcasting sister ABC O&O WABC-TV (ABC7)'s coverage.
WABC-A is up and running and taking calls. You can hear the stream here.
Responding To Sandy In D.C./BALTIMORE
In the D.C./BALTIMORE metros, "It was 'all hands on deck' for Hurricane SANDY," CCM+E/D.C.-BALTIMORE OM MEG STEVENS said. "All nine D.C./BALTIMORE radio stations were able to stay on the air during the entire storm with talent that provided news, traffic and weather information along with just talking to and sharing listeners stories. It was a long night for our Chief Engineer MATT HOWELL and his team, who put in Herculean efforts to keep us on the air.
"All our morning shows, including The KANE Show (HOT 99.5), ELLIOT in The Morning (DC101), and BOXER (WMZQ), started MONDAY morning setting the scene of what was about to happen and making sure listeners were prepared. Our staff is the best in the business and proved that once again by providing compelling radio throughout the day. It wasn’t business as usual, it was all about keeping listeners safe and informed.
"We spent the weekend preparing listeners with practical information about what was to come and then sharing information and talking to our listeners about what was happening in real time both on-air and online," she continued. "Information included interviews with key resources including our partner NBC 4 in WASHINGTON, D.C. Their meteorologists kept us up to date on rapidly deteriorating weather conditions during the storm with live call-ins through the night.
"Great preparation went into our storm coverage, including our digital department creating a Storm Watch page that included Hurricane SANDY preparation and storm path coverage. Over the course of the storm that page evolved and was consistently updated with breaking news, closures, and real time tracking. You’ll find HOT 99.5’s link here.
CCM+E's digital platforms also helped get the word out. "We were able to deliver the same message to listeners on-air, online and through social media," STEVENS said. "Social media including FACEBOOK, texting and TWITTER were key aspects to dissemination and receiving information from listeners to share with our audiences. The iHEARTRADIO App was a key way for our listeners to reach any of our stations and keep receiving information while they had no power .
"Our current efforts include updates, clean-up and power restoration information, road closure and flooding information and other travel info. Today is about giving practical information to listener that will affect today. We are also assisting the RED CROSS in provided donation support."
Surviving The Storm On Long Island
What was it like in the eye of the hurricane? COX RADIO Top 40 WBLI/NASSAU-SUFFOLK, NY PD JEREMY RICE told ALL ACCESS, "I spent the night without power with my wife and triplets in our basement for fear of our huge trees crashing on our home and babies. I was still able to make my family a gourmet dinner paired with a nice German beer; the candles were romantic! I listened to 'BLI on an old-fashioned battery/flashlight radio - way cool, way real."
"As this is LONG "ISLAND," there is flooding everywhere by the shores," he continued. "I stopped for a woman whose car was hit by a huge tree while driving and then she was slammed by another car, I called 911 and they put me on hold. Even 911 is way backed up. Everyone has a situation right now ... very scary ... 85% of LONG ISLAND is without power ... this is insane!"
At the station, RICE noted, "The market is a mess; we will not be back to normal radio until MONDAY. Morning man JEFFREY JAMESON is stranded in MANHATTAN; his building is flooded. Morning woman DANA DINATO's street is flooded and shut down, but she said, 'Screw that,' and drove through the roadblocks to do 5-11a today ... it was a stellar show! The phoners were amazing."
"Our staff is doing a great job on 106.1 BLI ... FACEBOOK, TWITTER and WBLI.COM ... keeping Long Islanders informed. They're the best they are here no matter what -- 9/11, blizzards, hurricanes -- we are here for LONG ISLAND. People are tough here; they've seen it all."
CCM+E/PHILADELPHIA OM BRIAN CHECK told ALL ACCESS, "Listeners from NEW JERSEY were in total shock -- couldn't believe the devastation and flooding in ATLANTIC CITY, and the how the boardwalk was literally ripped away.
"We are now back to normal programming, with news/traffic/weather twice an hour on all stations. Our simulcast was 6ABC TV went from 3p YESTERDAY to 7a this morning (10/30) on WISX (MIX 106)."
Responding Up And Down The East Coast
TOWNSQUARE MEDIA Talk WKXW (NEW JERSEY 101.5)/TRENTON is letting hard-hit CENTRAL NEW JERSEY know what's going and is streaming, here.
CUMULUS N/T WPRO-A (NEWS TALK 630)/PROVIDENCE "will wrap up, as of TONIGHT (10/30) at 9p (ET), will 53 hours of live and local HURRICANE SANDY programming," according to PD CRAIG SCHWALB.
"Coverage of HURRICANE SANDY began SUNDAY and was part of the yearly 'Operation Hurricane' platform that includes wall-to-wall coverage on-air and online. 630WPRO.com included live audio and video streaming, Twitter feeds with updates from local townships, and an INSTAGRAM feed with photos from the impacted SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND area. WPRO's coverage plan also included a team of full time reporters canvassing impacted areas and staffing an auxiliary studio at PROVIDENCE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY."
At SINCLAIR/NORFOLK, Alternative WROX (96X) PD JAMES STEELE said, "We were running two updates per hour, each of which wrapped up promoting our sister station Talk WNIS-A had non stop coverage of the storm with the help of multiple members of our clusters staff, including our on staff meteorologist DAVE PARKER. The updates consisted of the latest on the storm, and clips from local and national weather experts and news sources. Our FACEBOOK page was also a major source for the latest on the storm."
GREATER MEDIA VP/Corporate Communications HEIDI RAPHAEL told ALL ACCESS that the stations in the impacted areas "had a back-up plan and were prepared with multiple redundancies to assure the public that there would be uninterrupted content delivery. As a result, there was no down time; if power went down, we were prepared."
Maintaining their live-and-local programming, GREATER MEDIA stations "are providing constant updates to listeners and are partnering with local authorities to provide the latest information," she continued. "We are also encouraging listeners to call-in updates from the ground. Our stations have become the gathering point in our communities for information.
"Our main goal right now is to provide immediate information. There will absolutely be a huge campaign to help the community recover. However, right now people are still being rescued ... we are in 'immediate' mode."
And, ALL ACCESS has heard that WODE and WCTO in the LEHIGH VALLEY are currently off the air.
Yesterday, MAIN STREET BROADCASTING Oldies WLNG/SAG HARBOR, NY continued on-air despite announcers standing ankle deep in a watery control room. Now that's some dedication.
If you have information about your station or cluster about what went on during the storm, or post-HURRICANE SANDY in terms of plans to help your community recover, please click here to send it to ALL ACCESS for coverage.