Hurricane Irene Takes Aim At The East Coast
August 24, 2011 at 12:16 PM (PT)
As if YESTERDAY's EAST COAST earthquake (NET NEWS 8/23) weren't enough, THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER reports HURRICANE IRENE has strengthened to a Category 3 storm, with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. There's now a hurricane warning in effect for the SOUTHEASTERN, CENTRAL and NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS as IRENE moves to the west-northwest at nine miles per hour.
The storm is now expected to make landfall on the coast of NORTH CAROLINA at about 2a on SATURDAY.
What are stations in the expected path doing to prepare for the storm?
"The fact that this is supposed to hit here late SATURDAY evening into SUNDAY makes it even tougher to handle here, but we have full-time staffers on standby with a specific plan that involves a local TV station doing periodic simulcasts with us," MAX MEDIA/NORFOLK-VA BEACH OM JOHN SHOMBY told ALL ACCESS. "We want to make sure our personalities are on the air when needed and ready to go with that ever present 'team' coverage they all talk about. We are setting accommodations up for the staff and family as best as possible."
CLEAR CHANNEL Alternative WEND (106.5 THE END)/CHARLOTTE PD JACK DANIEL told ALL ACCESS, "STORM plan is in action and on standby. All shifts live starting early SATURDAY (or sooner) with custom 'bumpers and rejoins' already produced and in the system. Even if we don't get hit in CHARLOTTE, we will offer coverage for the coast and for those in the listening area that have property and/or friends and family in the danger areas. We also expect CHARLOTTE to become a destination for evacuees of the storm. We began hourly weather updates TODAY (8/24) and will increase as needed."
MAX MEDIA Country WGH/NORFOLK-VIRGINIA BEACH APD/MD/afternoon personality MARK McKAY added, "We're making plans. Fortunately we've all been through this, especially with HURRICANE ISABEL in '03, so we're prepared to go into full-on 'coverage' mode, if need be. And I sent a mass e-mail to our reps asking that they not ask why we may be down spins on their records this weekend, since it's fairly obvious!"
SINCLAIR BROADCASTING Country WUSH/NORFOLK/VA BEACH PD BRANDON O'BRIEN said, "We are extremely lucky when it comes to severe weather. Our midday guy, DAVE PARKER is a Meteorologist. Whenever extreme weather is in the area, no one in the market on the radio can touch DAVE's experience or knowledge. He is a former CBS-TV affiliate weather man and having him on our staff really pays off -- especially going into this weekend with HURRICANE IRENE approaching the NORFOLK, VIRGINIA BEACH area. DAVE will obviously handle anything that has to do with the weather on-air and on FACEBOOK."
SUNRISE BROADCASTING/WILMINGTON, NC OM/PD DAN BINDER said, "We may avoid a disastrous direct hit where our studios are located in WILMINGTON but our northern listening audience may not be as fortunate. Because our Alternative station WRMR is 100,000 Watts on the coast in JACKSONVILLE, we cover from NORTH MYRTLE BEACH to MOREHEAD CITY and north to NEW BERN. As a result of covering a lot of real estate, we will have staff on standby to make sure that everyone in the listening area has the most up to date information in order to take precautions."
QANTUM COMMUNICATIONS Country WEGX/FLORENCE, SC PD RANDY WILCOX tells ALL ACCESS, "We did high-profile updates as the NWS updated (5a, 8a, 11a, 2p, 5p, 8p, 11p) on the air as well as on FACEBOOK. Also was a big part of our on-air content. Truthfully though, it became evident by YESTERDAY morning that the storm wouldn't be an issue for us and so, as to avoid hype, we began reporting it without going overboard. As for our preparations, we were ready for 'all hands on deck, 24/7' with available live audio from our TV partner (WMBF) that we would simulcast alongside them."
JVC BROADCASTING Country WJVC (MY COUNTRY 96.1)/LONG ISLAND, NY PD PHATHEAD tells ALL ACCESS "Well we are doing a few things. We are reading announcements from LIPA (LONG ISLAND Power Authority) for the next few days. What to do in the event of certain situations, etc. We have a very close relationship with the local LONG ISLAND TV station, News 12. One of their meteorologists is a huge WJVC fan. He will be coming on the air with me THURSDAY and FRIDAY. Other than that in house we are going to see what SUNDAY brings and make a gametime decision."
NEXTMEDIA Top 40 WERO (BOB 93.3)/GREENVILLE-NEW BERN-JACKSONVILLE, NC PD CHRIS "HOLLYWOOD" MANN said, "We have been through this before, but every storm is unique We are lucky to have hurricane veterans on staff to weather the storm with our listeners. Our market consists of 9000 square miles, and we have two 100,000 watt stations to ensure full market coverage. IRENE is a massive storm and has the potential to do major damage from THE OUTER BANKS, inland. We are ramping up coverage as needed alongside our TV partner WCTI Newschannel 12 and will simulcast if needed. We have initiated a specific Hurricane Plan with 'All Hands On Deck' to hunker down at our studios for the weekend. We also have a backup facility that we can move to father inland from our studios in NEW BERN."
NEXTMEDIA Alternative WKZQ & Hot AC WMYB/MYRTLE BEACH, SC PD BJ KINARD explains,"First things first from a technical stand point, you double check the generators. We will make sure that every computer is backed up with external hard drives and that they are taken inland. We would figure out at what point we simulcast our AM station on all of FMs if the hurricane is so bad we need to hit the airwaves with 24 hour coverage. In the event of an evacuation, we’ll have a schedule of who is staying until the mandatory leave time and who goes early and what are they taking with them.
"From an on air perspective, our goal is to make sure the audience is informed with proper info. We don’t want to speculate on the air. The audience already assumes the worst, we don’t want to perpetuate that. We only want facts. As NOAA puts out a new projection, we post it on our sites and FACEBOOK and talk about the progress on the air. There have been several re-scheduled or cancelled community events, so we talk about those on the appropriate stations and have that info available on our sites. We also have hurricane tips and information on the sites as well."