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Nashville Radio Rallies for Flood Relief

Several stations off the air; Others join radiothon simulcast

A portion of downtown Nashville inundated by the Cumberland River, which crested 12 feet above flood stage on Monday (May 3) evening. The river is not expected to recede back below flood stage until at least Wednesday. Photo by Wayne Hsieh and used under a Creative Commons license.
With the Grand Old Opry House and much of downtown Nashville underwater, Nashville radio stations have rallied to support the community during what has been described as “a once in a thousand years” flood event.

Stations worked to keep people informed, even as some stations were being knocked off the air or forced to relocate to backup studios and transmission sites.

The Nashville Clear Channel cluster dedicated its programming today (May 4) to raising money for flood relief. The five stations — WLAC(AM), WNRQ(FM), WRVW(FM), WSIX-FM and WUBT(FM) — are simulcasting all day long with various personalities from the stations teaming up to call for donations and to take calls from listeners and local celebrities.

Funds raised during the radiothon are being donated to The Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund, a Nashville-based non-profit dedicated to “enriching the quality of life in Middle Tennessee,” according to the organization’s website.

Over the weekend, the Cumberland River overflowed its banks and topped levees, bringing significant damage to Music City, including the Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry House, which was set to begin a series of concerts to mark its 85th birthday on May 25. The Opryland complex, including Opry Mills and the Grand Ole Opry House, were washed over with some parts of the complex being submerged under more than 10 feet of water.

WSM(AM), which has its main studio in the Opryland Hotel, was forced to relocate to a backup studio at its tower site in the suburb of Brentwood.

In downtown Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame has been flooded, although floodwaters have not yet reached the historic Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, or Music Row.

According to the Nashville Public Radio WPLN Twitter feed, the main transmission site was knocked off the air on the morning of May 3 when downed trees took out electrical lines to the transmission site. Without the main transmitter operating, WPLN powered off its WTML and WHRS rebroadcast transmitters, but kept WPLN(AM) on the air. According to the station Twitter feed, WPLN-FM was back on the air late Monday evening, although it was unclear whether or not staff would be able to reach their Metro Center studios.

Citadel station WKDF(FM) lost power at its transmission site on Saturday and was forced to switch on a backup transmitter that provides a reduced coverage area, according to press reports and the WKDF Facebook page.

Independent station WRLT(FM) also lost power to its transmission site, according to the station’s Twitter feed. WRLT is encouraging listeners to tune in to its webstream.

At least 18 people in Middle Tennessee have been confirmed killed during the floods, and 10 additional deaths have been reported in other affected areas. Significant flooding has extended from Kentucky, through Tennessee and into Mississippi and Alabama.