Stations Should Prepare for the Worst
I listened to radio reports coming in from the tragedy unfolding at
the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, I couldn’t help but ponder
the significance of yet another senseless, brutal attack on United
States soil. The greater the frequency and breadth of attacks, the
more we will worry about our safety.
sudden emergencies certainly affect on-air content, we’ll discuss
that another time. For now, I’d like concentrate on security in our
own radio station workplace.
your local management team discussed and implemented a security
emergency plan? Heaven forbid you will ever have to use such
emergency tactics at work. But with every workplace tragedy reported,
your employees will be increasingly anxious for you to deliver a
the odds of your facility being attacked remain low, but who among us
doesn’t want to feel safe at work? That old adage about finding
your perfect mate can be also ring true as a sad statement of our own
vulnerability: All it takes is one.
heard from several friends who have already gone through “shooter
in the building” exercises at work. They learned where to hide, how
to improvise a weapon and how to exit a building safely. One told me
that he was instructed to exit a building under attack by holding his
hands above his head, so the police wouldn’t shoot him by accident.
That action would never have occurred to me.
your corporate headquarters is not sending you an emergency plan to
implement, you will have to construct one in-house. Nearly every city
has security experts in police departments, FBI offices or military
installations that can assist you in preparing a plan localized to
probably worked at stations where it was easier to get into the
control room than into your own home, so your first action is to have
an assessment done of your building to determine security risks.
Who’s got keys and passes? Are the key cards or locks changed when
employees leave the company? Are there security cameras (with someone
monitoring them) posted in your parking lot, garage, lobby and
hallways? How do people exit the building and when they do, where
should they go and who should they contact to let everyone know they
during any emergency is vital and smartphones have made it simple and
fast. Android and iOS have apps that enable group messaging, so you
can send text messages to your entire staff with one click. The trick
is setting up a group in advance. While this sounds simple, it will
take time to collect everyone’s mobile numbers into a database,
dump them into the app and then test.
also want more than one manager to have this capability, so you’ll
need to do the install on several phones. Because employees may
change staff positions (or phone numbers), this information does
require regular updating.
your station has to be evacuated, what should be broadcast when
nobody is in the facility? It’s a rare station today that doesn’t
have an automation system, but this one should be on your checklist
so that there’s no doubt about what goes on the air during what
could be an extended period of time. You may decide to simulcast
another radio or TV station in an emergency (with pre-permission).
your staff know who to call after they’ve called 911? Seems like
everybody should have the boss’s mobile phone in his or her
contacts list, but if they don’t call him regularly, the average
employee may not know the number after leaving the facility.
suggestions are not intended as a complete blueprint for your
emergency plan. I submit them to you merely to get the process
started. The cynical among us will no doubt comment about how
ridiculous it is for us to worry about such detail for any given
business that is unlikely ever to be attacked. I don’t know about
you, but when I’m the manager, I want my staff to feel safe and
prepared so they can concentrate on being top performers.
Lapidus is president of Lapidus Media.