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NAB Show: When Disaster Strikes

FEMA asks — Is your station prepared to operate in an emergency?

Broadcast stations can, and do perform great service to the communities they serve. But these stations can’t do that when they are off the air. An NAB Show Broadcast Engineering Conference session, “Continuity of Broadcast Operations During Disasters — Every Station Should Have a Plan,” refreshed that point.

FEMA Program Manager for National Continuity Programs Manuel Centeno said the first step in insuring that continuity in an emergency should take place well before it happens. “Just sit down and imagine the things that could happen that would keep your operation silent. The kiss of death in these emergencies is being silent.”

He mentioned some of the obvious but important factors, including a backup generator for transmitter sites and STLs, a backup method for originating programming from the transmitter site, along with the need to get all station departments (including sales and management), engaged and involved in the plan and its execution.

Centeno emphasized the need for contact with emergency managers, law enforcement and fire service, explaining that station people may have to move through restricted areas to work on transmitters or get to station facilities.

He said that being able to broadcast in an emergency can create a psychological connection with the listeners. “Whenever something happens, they know where to tune to.”

Centeno offered to send a copy of the presentation to any interested station. Contact him at [email protected].