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Industry Groups and Stations Prep for Storm

Here is a sampling of resources and early impact

The approach of Hurricane Florence to the Atlantic coastline of the United States has prompted numerous announcements and developments within the world of radio.

The National Association of Broadcasters emailed stations near the storm path reminding them of resources. An online guide provides “Ten Steps to Disaster Preparation and Recovery,” listing steps stations can take to help ensure safety of staff and continuity of operations. NAB also gave stations helpful links to letters from the Department of Homeland Security to help station personnel gain access to disaster areas and possibly help prioritize debris removal and fuel access. And it noted that the FCC launched a Hurricane Florence website with resources and public notices, including one on how to obtain Special Temporary Authority.

Find all those NAB links here.

[Read: Hurricane Maria — Stories From the Frontline]

Elsewhere, the Broadcasters Foundation of America said it is preparing for an influx of emergency grant applications in the wake of the hurricane. Its grant program has an expedited application process to deliver emergency funds quickly to needy people who work or have worked in broadcasting. Grants are based on financial need. The foundation recently doubled the maximum amount to $2,000. Last year about $300,000 was awarded to individual victims of disasters including hurricanes. “Broadcasters whose personal lives or property are acutely affected by Hurricane Florence are encouraged to find out if they qualify for an emergency grant by visiting”

SiriusXM and The Weather Channel are teaming up to provide a live simulcast of The Weather Channel on satellite Channel 145 starting Thursday morning. It will be available on any SiriusXM radio for both subscribers and nonsubscribers.

Wheatstone decided to close its factory in New Bern, N.C., for the rest of the week, taking measures to protect products and equipment from possible water damage. New Bern is on the Neuse River; and about 100 people work at the factory, which is about 3 miles from the nearest water, according to Systems Engineer Scott Johnson. “This is the most powerful storm our area has faced since Hazel in 1954,” the company tweeted Tuesday evening. “No one can say in what condition this storm will leave our area.” It said its service technicians would remain available throughout for customer support.

Several suppliers disseminated emails letting customers know of their availability to provide rushed products and/or phone technical support including SCMS, Telos Alliance and Progressive Concepts.

The Radio Television Digital News Association published a Hurricane Reporter’s Checklist, including items from cash, extra socks and a car battery jumper, to duct tape and plastic bags for gear (and nonlubricated condoms for keeping small electronics like microphones dry). Find it here.

Additional reporting:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement Wednesday saying, “At this point, FCC staff have already been deployed to survey the radio frequency spectrum across critical areas of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, and our operations center is open 24 hours a day.” Pai said FCC staff had reached out to broadcast associations, wireless carriers and other telecom companies in the region; and he urged residents of the area “to charge their wireless phones, laptops or tablets, sign up to receive emergency alerts and warnings, and follow other communications tips available on the FCC’s website to stay connected with family and friends.”

Jim Sanders of Amb-OS Media wrote to affiliates that Amb-OS and the Christian Radio Consortium networks utilize the satellite services of Microspace Communications, which operates its primary teleport south of Raleigh, N.C. “Normal rainfall typically doesn’t affect C Band transmissions,” Sanders said in his email, “but needless to say, Florence will deliver much heavier than normal rainfall. Even though we don’t know the specific storm path nor the amount of rain which will fall in the Raleigh area, it’s worth noting that your CRC receivers’ Eb/N0 may be impacted.”

“Downlink Eb/N0 is affected by any degradation in the uplink signal,” he continued. “And even though Microspace actively adjusts uplinking power to ‘punch’ through heavy precipitation, there may be periodic changes in observed Eb/N0 at various times over the coming weekend.” Sanders emphasized that he wasn’t anticipating problems but wanted to flag the possibility. “We recommend you make sure your AMR-100 is connected to the internet so as to backfill and backload missing packets and programs. You may also want to have standby programming at the ready for any live material you may capture starting Friday morning.”

And, he added: “Most importantly, let’s pray for the friends who are on the eastern seaboard…for their safety and well-being.”

Programming and production services firm Benztown has announced it is making audio production and voiceover services available for free to radio stations in the path of Florence that need help producing PSAs to keep their communities informed about the hurricane, safety precautions, critical public information and relief efforts. 

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