In Cedar Rapids, ‘Conditions Are Extremely Challenging’

Stations work to get back to something like normal.
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Stations work to get back to something like normal.

What’s it like making radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this week?

Cumulus corporate engineering exec Gary Kline shares an e-mail from the local cluster’s Dick Stadlen, which Stadlen sent to company higher-ups Thursday to let them know what was happening “on the ground” there:

“As of 2:40 Wednesday afternoon, KDAT and KHAK are again broadcasting from our downtown studios. We moved KRQN back at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“Conditions are extremely challenging. We have limited power supplied by the building generator, no air conditioning, fire alarms, phones or Internet. There is one working elevator.

“We can access the building only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., are not supposed to stay for more than an hour at a time and must wear masks, which we’ve picked up from FEMA. In order to reach the building we must navigate through debris and muck that ABC News had tested and reportedly contains high levels of e-coli and other hazardous contaminants,” Stadlen continued.

“We’re currently doing limited daypart voicetracking and as of (Wednesday) night are able to carry our satellite shows. KRNA continues to headquarter at KZIA. It’s a much better setup since KRNA is operating out of a fully functional studio and can do some live breaks. Our business and sales offices are operating out of a vacant storefront at Lindale Mall.

“Downtown Cedar Rapids is a ghost town except for the workers who are clearing out the buildings. Debris is piled everywhere and the smell in some areas is overwhelming. Latest estimates are that over 4,000 homes were damaged in Cedar Rapids alone and over 2,000 of those homes will need to be bulldozed. The area looks like a war zone that rivals anything you’ve seen with Katrina.

“Thanks to everyone who has helped and continues to help us stay on the air. Just watch where you step. — Dick”

Passing along Stadlen’s e-mail, Kline also singled out the work of engineers Andy Andresen (Radio World’s 2004 Excellence in Engineering Award recipient), Ricki Peters and Scott Wilcox “for working non-stop since the floods hit to keep us on the air from alternate studios and then moving us back.”