The East Coast Digs Out From Winter Storm Jonas -- And A Blizzard Warning
January 25, 2016 at 8:05 AM (PT)
The NORTHEAST section of the country scrambled SUNDAY (1/24) to dig out from the often record-setting snow from WINTER Storm JONAS that dumped 30+ inches of the white stuff in some areas.
In NEW JERSEY, flooding was the biggest problem, hitting many of the same areas that hit the JERSEY SHORE during Hurricane SANDY just a few years ago.
The LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD "sustained significant damage during the storm," according to officials and leaders in NEW YORK CITY, BALTIMORE and PHILADELPHIA all warned that the water could refreeze, and make this morning's commute difficult.
CNN reports, "BALTIMORE Mayor STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE said her city had experienced a 'historic snow event,' and promised city workers were working aggressively to get roads and services back on track. She asked residents to do their part by using common sense. Before you go out, she warned, decide first if it's absolutely necessary. It not, stay home."
WASHINGTON, D.C. and PHILADELPHIA experienced blizzard conditions, receiving as much snow in one storm as the season often brings.
CNN notes, "The storm has killed at least 14 people, grounded thousands of flights and shut down travel in many of the nation's largest cities. One of the hardest-hit locales was GLENGARY, WV, a small town about 85 miles northwest of WASHINGTON, which preliminary figures show received 42 inches of snow."
FCC Closed Today
As part of the federal government's shutdown due to the weather conditions in WASHINGTON TODAY (1/25), the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION is closed for business.
New York Radio
iHEARTMEDIA Top 40 WHTZ (Z100)/NEW YORK PD MARK MEDINA shared with ALL ACCESS that, "along with hourly updates from our news station WOR-A, we had multiple jock breaks dedicated to storm info per hour along wit extended traffic and weather reports each hour -- and of course, night jock MAXWELL and his FLO RIDA parody of 'My House' -- 'Stuck In My House'."
Z100 used social media to keep listeners on top of the storm, and to let them know JOE JONAS was in studio to share winter storm JONAS.
CUMULUS Hot AC WPLJ/NEW YORK PD GILETTE shared with ALL ACCESS, "We did our best to inform in a lifestyle relevant way. Don’t spend the night with someone you don’t wanna be snowed in with TOMORROW. Charge your cell phone overnight so you have enough power to post selfies on INSTAGRAM TOMORROW. Make sure you have batteries -- especially if you’re going to be... alone. If you’re on THE LOWER EAST SIDE, SEAMLESS is still delivering. When the travel ban was announced we pounced -- with no truck deliveries, grocery shelves were running low -- where is the best place to grab fresh food? What establishments are still open so you can 'hydrate'. NEW YORKERs are stubborn, but not stupid. We used the air, social and the website to communicate and interact."
Since we were live and local 24/7," added GILLETTE, "we were able to do storm updates 3 times an hour. It helps that the crew (even on weekends) is made up of NEW YORK veterans, so when they shut down the subway above ground in BROOKLYN, QUEENS and THE BRONX, we can give you alternatives without having to look at a map."
CUMULUS MEDIA Talk WABC-A/New York PD CRAIG SCHWALB shared, "During the height of the storm WABC was live and local from 10a-6p with 2 newscasts per hour, 4 traffic and weather reports per hour. We continued with top of the hour updates only from 6p-12a, hosted by
NOAM LADEN, RON KUBY 10a-2p and RITA COSBY 2-6p and WABC Meteorologist BILL EVANS of WABC TV."
SCHWALB said there were a total of, "24 total newscasts, 38 total weather casts, 38 total traffic reports," with guests including, "BILL DE BLASIO - NYC MAYOR, JENN NELSON - Public Affairs & Policy NJ TRANSIT, STEVE BURNS - Reporter WMAL/D.C., DAWN ZIMMER - HOBOKEN NJ Mayor, STEVE BELLONE - County Executive of SUFFOLK COUNTY, STEVE KASTENBAUM - WW1, BOB COSTANI - WW1, BEN KRAKAUR - NYC Emergency Management Director of Watch Command, AMY FREEZE - WABC TV Meteorologist and RONALD G. RIOS - Freeholder Director of MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ."
iHEARTMEDIA/PHILLY VP/Programming BRIAN CHECK told ALL ACCESS, "it’s 'all hands on deck' with a full staff staying over last night and tonight. Tracked shifts have gone live, and our content includes continuous updates from our News Director, and our TV partner, 6ABC. We’ve also put a huge focus on social media, for both information and entertainment. WISX (MIX 106) is doing a “'Snow is Back Throwback Weekend' and WIOQ (Q102) is all about a 'Winter Storm JONAS' weekend with ticket giveaways and lots of fun on social media. This is what radio is all about, interacting with our listeners on-air, on-line and on social media."
CUMULUS MEDIA Corporate PD/News-Talk and WASHINGTON, D.C. OM BILL HESS told ALL ACCESS, "we offered expanded coverage beginning mid-afternoon FRIDAY as the storm was bearing down on the nation’s capitol. In addition to our news team, based in the station’s Storm Center, WMAL embedded reporters and freelancers in neighborhoods throughout the region, who filed reports from towns throughout the coverage area. Expanded live and local talk shows gave our listeners the opportunity to share their experiences, as well."
"Our web content team kept the WMAL, and sister WRQX (MIX 107.3) websites updates with the latest closings, weather reports, power information, plus photos and videos sent in by our listeners," noted HESS. "Major developments were reported on the stations’ social media sites, as well as on-air. WMAL’s coverage continued throughout the storm, and is continuing now through the region’s recovery which is likely to take the rest of this week."
CUMULUS Hot AC WRQX (MIX 107.3 FM/WASHINGTON, D.C. PD LOUIE DIAZ told ALL ACCESS, "We got slammed in WASHINGTON, D.C,! MIX 107.3 began planning on TUESDAY of last week scheduling weekend talent, & securing hotel rooms. FRIDAY began with the World Famous JACK "DIAMOND DOPPLER" weather forecast and it was right on target. MIX 107.3 had traffic reports twice per hour on FRIDAY and SATURDAY, with extra traffic reports and weather reports all day.
DIAZ continued, "also a lot of local information between songs -- for example -- all local Mass Transit shut down FRIDAY night and nothing moved all weekend. We kept the generic 'get stocked up on bottles of wine breaks' off the air and really super served the WASHINGTON, D.C. with needed information. It's what MIX 107.3 was known for in the past, and we did our best to deliver this past weekend. SUNDAY, MIX 107.3 featured on what was open for business. Local grocery stores like SAFEWAY, and drug stores called in to say their pharmacies were open for any needed medications."
SALEM RADIO NETWORK VP/News & Talk Programming TOM TRADUP shared with ALL ACCESS, "SRN NEWS WASHINGTON bureau encountered this weekend’s massive snowstorm up-close-and-personal as the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA and surrounding areas got 30-inches of snow in 24 hours. SRN’s Snow Emergency 2016 team was led by WHITE HOUSE correspondent GREG CLUGSTON, news anchor BOB AGNEW, veteran news desk editor GEORGE BONZAGNI and others. CLUGSTON and AGNEW worked virtually around the clock during the blizzard, only taking brief sleep-breaks in nearby hotels. Editor GEORGE BONZAGNI spent 65 straight hours in the bureau, filing reports for both SRN NEWS and companion network TOWNHALL.COM NEWS."
“I am so proud of the men and women of SRN NEWS,” said Managing Editor/D.C. Bureau Chief KEN LORMAND. “Congress declared a Snow Week for itself, but our WASHINGTON news team pressed on around the clock so that affiliates nationwide would get the very latest on this historic storm.”
iHEARTMEDIA Top 40 WIHT (HOT 99.5)/WASHINGTON, D.C. and Country WPOC/BALTIMORE PD TOMMY CHUCK shared with ALL ACCESS, "30 inches of snow at my house in MARYLAND. Crazy! I just finished 6 hours of shoveling the driveway. The best thing about this storm... even though it was massive... virtually nobody lost power. The power company/crews were really awesome. The only real headache is cabin fever. Crews are already out clearing the main roads and will probably get to the neighborhood streets tomorrow. So, the early part of this week will likely keep most people home from work and school."
As for what WIHT did, CHUCK added, "(APD/afternooner) TOBY KNAPP is a hero for quarterbacking all this. We provided live/local coverage before, during and after the storm. As the forecast got worse throughout the week, we increased the amount of weather updates our air personalities delivered to help prepare listeners for the storm. On-air and online we provided tips for winter storm preparation.
"As the storm got underway FRIDAY night through SATURDAY evening, our air personalities were live giving up to the minute updates on closing/cancelations and emergency communications from government officials to compliment with news reports 2 times per hour provided by our 24/7 News team and traffic updates 2 times per hour provided by TOTAL TRAFFIC NETWORK. FRIDAY evening coverage was anchored by TOBY KNAPP and (MD/night talent) ELIZABETHANY, SATURDAY was handled by INTERN JOHN in the morning, TOBY KNAPP & (morning star) KANE in afternoons and ELIZABETHANY at night. Online and via social media we continued to keep listeners updated."
But there's more! "On SUNDAY after the storm had passed, our on-air talent continued to provide up to the minute updates on closing/cancelations and emergency communications from government officials in compliment with traffic reports 2 times per hour provided by TOTAL TRAFFIC NETWORK," continued CHUCK. "JERRY HOUSTON hosted this coverage. Online and via social media we continued to keep listeners updated. In addition to this severe weather coverage we had some fun by airing short down tempo 'HOT 99.5 and Chill Mixes' that encouraged fans to cuddle up by the radio and enjoy the snow with someone they love. We also hosted contesting for 'Snowed-In Survival Kits' that included items to help listeners make it through the storm. Prize packs included wine, pizza, groceries, ROKU and a MOFI to keep your phone charged so you can listen to HOT 99.5 via the iHEARTRADIO app if the power goes out! Since the WINTER Storm was named 'JONAS' we also had some fun work parts provided by JOE JONAS to use throughout the weekend."
As WINTER storm JONAS approached the nation’s Capital heading into the weekend, iHEARTMEDIA Country WMZQ/WASHINGTON DC amped up service elements on air with traffic, news and weather updates four times per hour on FRIDAY (1/22). PD MEG STEVENS told ALL ACCESS, “We are very fortunate to have had as much time to prepare as a community. Metro shut down, most offices closed at 12p and airports were also closed.”
The station added some levity to the situation, giving away gift cards for DAIRY QUEEN Blizzards, and, talk about taking a “glass half full” approach, after prepping the station’s coverage plan, STEVENS said, “It’s time to hunker down and enjoy nature’s beauty.”
Elsewhere On The East Coast
CUMULUS YORK/LANCASTER PD/Brand Mgr. DAVE RUSSELL said, "It was a wild weekend but an opportunity for radio to shine and serve our communities. Our cluster began planning what we would be doing in the middle of the week so we were ready to go. Our coverage actually began on FRIDAY afternoon as listeners were calling in from all over the market to let us know when snow began in their area. On SATURDAY, we dug in for the day for real beginning at 6a. We had hourly news updates during the morning courtesy of our sister station News Radio 910 WSBA-A. WSBA had a special edition of their morning show and ran updates throughout the day. GARY SUTTON, who hosts a daily talk show on WSBA, provided updates for all stations throughout the day with calls to area convenience stores and a few restaurants to get an idea of what kind of traffic was out there."
RUSSELL added, "As the worst of the storm was happening, one station staffer was out in LANCASTER COUNTY interviewing people who were actually out in the storm. I tried to do the same in YORK, but my HONDA CRV got stuck on a road leading out from the station and it was several hours before I got it dug out. Throughout the day, CUMULUS/YORK stations including WARM 103.3, Classic Hits 961 SOX and Country WIOV shared information from YORK COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT with the main goal being to keep people off the streets. We also tapped into our relationship with CBS 21 in HARRISBURG and that allowed us to provide audio from some new conferences from Governor Wolf and other state officials along with interviewing CBS 21 Meteorologists. On WARM 103.3, we again solicited listeners to call in and let us know what they were doing. Staying indoors or perhaps out building a snowman with their kids. Kudos to MARK MCKENZIE, BRIIAN DEAN and GARY SUTTON from WSBA, BOBBY D, DIANE GRAY and JOHN LONDON from WSOX, MURPH and Rich CREEGER from WIOV and MELISSA MANN from promotions who all contributed to our clusters efforts of getting the word out."
"We continued coverage until 6p on all of our music stations. Our social media sites also had updates throughout the day with pictures and video from listeners and staffers," said RUSSELL. "Personally, I was at the station from FRIDAY morning 'til SUNDAY morning before I was able to get home because of the roads. I think RICH CREEGER from WIOV summed it up best when a neighbor asked him why he had to come into the station on such a bad day. RICH said we're doing it for you. A big concern our cluster had was what if the area lost power for an extended period of time? Battery operated radios would have been used by many and they would have been dependent on local radio for information. These are the kinds of days we get to shine as an industry and our CUMULUS/YORK stations did just that."
CUMULUS Classic Hits WSOX (OLDIES 96.1)/YORK, PA PD BOBBY D continued, "all day THURSDAY and FRIDAY we were in properness mode. Passing along tips, emergency numbers, the latest forecast, interviewing staff from Emergency Management from various counties we serve spreading the word on how to prepare. SATURDAY, my morning show partner Diane Grey and I pulled a 12 hour shift in the studio. Staff members who could not make it in gave us reports from the various towns they live in. We teamed up with our TV partner CBS 21 (WHP-TV) who had reporters out at various locations. Reporters were also giving updates of totals where they were, as well as interviews with people who were in the mess and why. Listeners shared their accounts over the phone as well as through our social sites. We had our TV meteorologists on several times throughout the day informing the timing of storm . We also stay in contact with EMA for the counties as they updated us on how things were, in ADAMS, LANCASTER and YORK counties. PEMA held several news conferences where the Governor spoke. We aired those as well."
BOBBY D added, "Our midday guy JOHN LONDON, gave us the best count. On a normal day it may take him 20 to 25 minutes to get to the studio from his house. SATURDAY -- over 3 hours before he made it. He got stuck 4 times even with 4 wheel drive. Reinforcing the message not to go out."
CUMULUS Country WCTO (CAT COUNTRY 96) and AC WLEV/ALLENTOWN-BETHLEHEM-EASTON PD JERRY PADDEN shared with ALL ACCESS, "the area received 31.9 inches of snow, an all time record! I was on the air during the height of the storm, relaying important information and airing callers from various parts of the area who were acting as in the field reporters. The stations' TWITTER and FACEBOOK feeds were also active, and listeners were even posting storm photos on FACEBOOK."
CUMULUS MEDIA Top 40/Rhythmic WWKL/HARRISBURG APD/MD VENETIA told ALL ACCESS, "Our Morning Guy PUFF and I, along with our Traffic Guy JOHN WILSBACH were on all day SATURDAY of course with all the news and weather reports you would expect but we also had fun with it. Using #HotSnowParty, we made videos, took requests and encouraged our listeners to share with us their how they were celebrating their #HotSnowParty. I’ve attached a link to one of the videos that we made… as you can see we had fun with our two-plus feet of JONAS snow!"
CUMULUS/HARRISBURG OM JOHN O'DEA added, "Our CUMULUS/HARRISBURG stations were fully staffed on SATURDAY for JONAS. It was all hands on deck and we had coverage from about 7a till late afternoon. We had news, traffic, and weather updates throughout the day during worst part of the storm. It was the largest snow total in HARRISBURG history -- 30 inches with many suburbs getting upwards of 38 inches. Truly an historic event!"
The blizzard of 2016 may have closed the campus all weekend, but SETON HALL UNIVERSITY noncommercial Active Rock WSOU/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ, remained live on the air 24/7 to provide news, traffic, weather, and loud rock for listeners in NORTHERN NEW JERSEY and NEW YORK CITY.
Led by PD STEVE VARSANYI, Technical Operations Director BRIAN KANE, Assistant News Director KATIE FATZLER and APD HOLLY FITZPATRICK, a dedicated team of student staff members hunkered down at the station and worked in shifts FRIDAY night through SUNDAY afternoon to provide weather and traffic reports, news updates, and other critical information. The station also continued playing its unique mix of metal, hardcore, punk, and other loud rock genres, as well as its normal weekend public affairs and sports programming.
“Training and mentoring students on what to do during a weather emergency or natural disaster is an essential part of our educational mission,” said WSOU GM MARK MABEN. “Experiences like these help prepare students for their careers and demonstrate that student-run college radio stations can be vital sources of information for the communities they serve.”
LONG ISLAND, NY's DANIEL SANFILIPPO was driving on THE NORTHERN STATE PARKWAY around 4p on FRIDAY, JANUARY 22nd, when he noticed a highway display monitor with the message "lizzard warning." He tweeted the image and it's now being shared by thousands across social media. Photo Credit: DANIEL SANFILIPPO.
Perhaps if SANFILIPPO had been listening to the radio, he would have been warned earlier by newsman LES NESSMAN.