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Cumulus Weathers Matthew

Broadcaster comes up for air after storm passes

As Hurricane Matthew recedes into history, southeast coast broadcasters, especially in Florida, seem to have emerged relatively unscathed.

Radio World reached out to several broadcast entities with some quick questions on how they prepared and weathered the storm. Cumulus Media’s Senior Vice President for Technology and Operations Conrad Trautmann had these answers.

Radio World: Is there a standard hurricane preparation plan for the station/group?
Conrad Trautmann: Yes, we’ve had standing plans in many of our markets. During this big storm however, we had a pre-planning call with all potentially affected markets to get everyone on the same page regarding safety, outages and communication plans, including what to tell listeners and when.

RW: What are some of those preparations?
Trautmann: As mentioned above, Cumulus’s office of programming provides guidance to our markets on the messages we should send to our listeners based on the severity of the storm. The timing of those announcements depends on NWS updates. The frequency of those messages increases while preparing for the storm and then we move to full coverage once we’re into the worst part of the storm. We also do some common sense things such as tie down anything we fear could be damaged in the wind, test our generators and make sure fuel tanks and our vehicles are topped off. We made sure CNN television audio was available to broadcast on all of our stations in the event we had to evacuate and couldn’t provide our own local programming.

RW: Did everything go according to the plan or were there surprises?
Trautmann: We communicated quite a bit on the front side of the storm and went over all of the possible outcomes, so there were really no surprises. We were fortunate that our damages were minimal.

RW: Were any lessons learned for the next hurricane gig?
Trautmann: Just that getting everyone talking to each other and supporting one another in the affected regions was a comfort to everyone. We are planning to have a mobile tower and generator moved to the region in the event we were to lose a tower in a future storm. We had those on standby in other markets but we’d like to house those closer to the bad weather areas.

RW: Any amusing stories?
Trautmann: Nothing really, we all took this storm extremely seriously for our listeners and for our employees. We’re glad the storm didn’t do the direct hit on Melbourne that we expected and that everyone is okay.