Recently we noted the survey that the Alabama Broadcasters Association is conducting, asking its members to supply critical emergency contact, preparation and facility information. The impetus of the survey was a meeting of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium. It encouraged state broadcaster associations to ascertain emergency response capabilities.
To learn more, we spoke with ABA President Sharon Tinsley and ABA’s contract engineer Larry Wilkins.
What use will be made of this data?
Sharon Tinsley: In the event of an earthquake, using this data, we would know which stations are likely to remain on the air and could direct resources and information from EMA, etc., there. We can also identify stations in affected communities who might not be on the air and help to get them back up faster. The same is true for any emergency.
This survey isn’t just for earthquake events but rather can cover all manner of disasters?
Tinsley: The eight states of the CUSEC region are collecting this information to aid in earthquake preparedness. But, obviously, it will be helpful in any event. I think most of us made the decision to survey all of our stations instead of just those likely to be impacted by an earthquake.
Why should every state broadcasting association perform this survey?
Tinsley: I can’t say that other states don’t already have this information about their stations. But, if not, it would certainly be a good thing to have this data.
Are most stations prepared to handle an emergency or would this survey apprise them that they aren’t prepared?
Tinsley: I would think in this particular region, stations already know where they stand in regard to preparation. The CUSEC region is also “tornado alley!” And, larger companies like Clear Channel have extensive recovery plans in place to respond to their stations/clusters anywhere in the country in an emergency.
Would a station whose survey indicates they aren’t prepared be encouraged to improve its emergency preparations?
Tinsley: We would hope that all stations have emergency operation plans for generators, fuel and even back-up broadcast facility plans. If not, this should be an eye opener and we hope they would take action.
Is there any idea how many stations are prepared/situated to stay on the air during emergencies?
Larry Wilkins: In my travels around the state I am finding more and more stations with generators, both at the transmitter and studio. I would think the percentage with a back-up power source would be around 75%. The number of alternate studio or transmitter locations is rather low. Clear Channel has back-up studios via their VSAT system.