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EAS Invoked for Hurricane Charley; Stations Now Focused on Relief Efforts

EAS Invoked for Hurricane Charley; Stations Now Focused on Relief Efforts

NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts and Florida Association of Broadcasters President Pat Roberts want the FCC to take note of broadcasters role as first responders. In a nine page letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell and copied to the other four commissioners, Fritts and Roberts said the role of stations before the storm, during it and now afterwards for cleanup is critical.
Especially important, they note, is when “the National Hurricane Center was still predicting a Class 2 hurricane would come ashore near Tampa, a number of local television weather forecasters had upgraded the storm’s intensity to Class 4 and warned viewers the storm had turned sharply to the east.
Radio was vital to listener Jan Ramos of North Fort Myers, Florida. His message to the local NBC and ABC TV affiliates was included in the letter: “When Charley jogged north once again and spared a direct hit on the Bayshore area, our little old $10 battery-operated weather/AM/FM radio and your simulcast radio coverage were our only link to what was happening. We knew we didn’t need to use the little safe room, whereas other neighbors told us they stayed in their safe room for hours due to fear and a lack of knowledge of the storm’s new track. By airing your combined NBC-2/ABC-7 hurricane coverage on multiple radio stations, we were always able to find a clear channel, no matter the weather interference.”
Florida broadcasters activated the EAS three times last Friday, and messages were sent on both English and Spanish, they said in the letter.
The letter included several testimonials describing broadcasters’ programming, and now, relief drives in the aftermath of the disaster.
Several of those relief drives are radio-related. For example, Infinity, Orlando stations WOMX(FM), WJMH(FM) and WOCL(FM) organized a blood drive and Clear Channel’s WXXL(FM) acted as an information clearinghouse. Clear Channel-owned KZHT(FM) in Salt Lake City arranged to have a truck filled with bottled water driven to the area. Citadel’s cluster in Colorado Springs is collecting canned food and bottled water that will be driven to Florida.
NAB is making public service announcements available to stations urging people to aid the hurricane victims.