Early Planning Helps Radio Inform Minot Flood Victims
June 24, 2011 at 4:43 PM (PT)
Radio stations in MINOT, ND were prepared well in advance to inform its listeners to the rising flood waters that are now decimating the area. ALLISON BOSTOW, OM/PD of CLEAR CHANNEL's six-station cluster, told ALL ACCESS that their staffers prepared well in advance to interrupt regular programming and keep their listeners informed as to the latest goings-on.
"About four weeks ago, when we realized that the reports we were getting from officials regarding MINOT and WARD COUNTY would be devastating for citizens, we looked at our programming scheme and pulled teams together to make decisions that were based on what would be best for our listeners in MINOT and everyone in surrounding communities," she said
About four weeks ago, when we realized that the reports were devastating for our citizens, we looked at our programming scheme and pulled teams together to make decisions that were based on what would be best for our listeners
"Our emergency team held meetings at least four times daily and we came to the decision that when you have over 12,000 displaced residents in the area, we should try to keep some normality on the air, so we still played music while, of course, pushing the RED CROSS and efforts by other agencies. And whenever there was a press conference regarding the situation, we carried them live on all of our stations."
The coverage was complemented by flood news and press conference wrap-ups on the stations' websites and FACEBOOK pages, where they interacted with listeners. "The announcers in this building are people who have lived here their entire lives," BOSTOW noted. "They know this community and who their listeners are; they know what kind of information is needed, be it road closures or emergency evacuation areas. A lot of questions are coming from our listeners, and we try to answer them as well as divert them to the appropriate state or Federal agency. We make sure this information is everywhere -- on-air, on FACEBOOK and on our websites."
Unfortunately, the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. Waters are expected to rise another three feet. "Citizens in MINOT have gone from disbelief to acceptance to wanting to know how to go forward to get their homes and property back," BOSTOW said. "The problem is flooding usually occurs in the spring, so we have the entire summer to recover from it --which for us ends in SEPTEMBER. The timeline we're looking at right now is that the high water is supposed to stay for anther week, then the city will start pumping out the water. After that the government officials will determine when it's safe to go back to our homes, when we'll finally figure out what can be cleaned, what can be thrown out -- and if the house can even be saved.
"Nobody knows how long all this will take," she continued. "It could last until SEPTEMBER or OCTOBER. Well, it has been know to snow in OCTOBER; it can get to below-zero weather with 50 mph winds. That will not be a time for 12,000 people to live in RVs and mobile homes. It's going to be quite a challenge."
Elsewhere in MINOT, FAITH BROADCASTING Contemporary Christian KHRT-F (106.9 K-HEART) has added coverage of the flood to regular music programming, and is offering information at its website and FACEBOOK page.
Watch continuing coverage of the flooding on CBS affiliate KXMC-TV by clicking here.