Broadcasters big and small came together to help both their communities and each other during Hurricane Irma. The terrible storm brought havoc, destruction and sadly the loss of life across an entire region. But when mother nature was at her worst, local media was at its best. From “TV on the radio” to ham radio communication relays, here are some of the ways local media helped their communities during Hurricane Irma.
Filling The “First-Informer Role” During Emergencies
When disaster strikes, where do communities go to for news and critical emergency information? According to a recent NAB survey, 57% of Americans turn to local TV and radio. That’s 4x higher than cable news channels or other digital communication methods.
Miami “Viewers” During Hurricane Irma
TV broadcasters in Miami switched to wall-to-wall local coverage of Hurricane Irma. They preempted all network programs including primetime programming, national news, and even NFL games. And almost all of that TV coverage was commercial free.
But with an estimated 6 million Floridians without power during the hurricane, who locally was watching this wall-to-wall coverage? They weren’t watching, they were listening.
Radio Saves The Day
Media devices and technologies that require electricity, like smartphones, flat screen TVs, cell towers, social media sites, apps, and Connected TV devices, were all useless during the storm.
So out came the batteries and emergency transistor radios. And when Florida TV stations needed to reach an audience without power, they jumped mediums. TV stations started feeding the audio of their TV broadcasts to their radio partners across the state. The end result? It was “TV you can hear”.
“Shout out to the often maligned terrestrial radio industry for being the safety net of communication during this massive storm,” said Tracey McCormack, Founder, and President of McCormack Media Services. “You can always count on radio to do its job for the community… faithfully and loyally.”
Even without phone and Internet communication, broadcasters were still able to gather information from their community using an unlikely hero, ham radio. Amateur radio operators played a critical role in information gathering during Hurricane Irma. Part of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), operators like Paul Bartoszewicz (Call Sign KC2LXV) and Willie Thompson (Call Sign KB5FKG) worked day and night during Hurricane Irma. ARES licenses a group of ham radio operators to help with emergency communication during big storms. Ham radio operators relayed information between shelters, emergency services and broadcasters.
Radio & TV Working Together To Help The Community
Florida TV stations did an excellent job covering Hurricane Irma. They provided critical information to help residents evacuate, find safety and even reunite separated friends and family. And thanks to the cable news networks and national news coverage, local TV provided a critical news relay to the rest of the country.
But when their usual TV viewers couldn’t “view” their coverage, radio was there to deliver information to a community that could “hear” it. Let’s all give a big thank you to everyone in Flordia radio industry for filling the first-informer role for our communities in their time of need.