Radio Ready To Roll As Hurricane Florence Closes In On East Coast As A Cat 4 Storm

Radio Ready To Roll As Hurricane Florence Closes In On East Coast As A Cat 4 Storm


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Florence From Space

        HURRICANE FLORENCE's track has shifted slightly SOUTH, and, "is now forecast to move slowly through the CAROLINAS and SOUTHEAST through this weekend, increasingly likely to produce catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, along with life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds," reports THE WEATHER CHANNEL.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the CAROLINA coast," the NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE wrote in its TUESDAY evening area forecast discussion.

A hurricane warning and storm surge warning are in effect from the SOUTH SANTEE RIVER, SOUTH CAROLINA, to DUCK, NORTH CAROLINA, including the ALBEMARLE and PAMLICO sounds. This includes MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA, WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA, and most of THE OUTER BANKS.

Here are the latest dispatches from stations in FLORENCE's path.

Charleston, SC Is On Alert

CUMULUS/CHARLESTON, SC Market Manager SHERRY DOLLAR checked in with ALL ACCESS in the midst of feverish preparation to explain what her cluster is doing for the storm, and she noted that the preparation began well before FLORENCE made her appearance — "Each JUNE we gather the 'Crisis Team' before the start of Hurricane Season and make sure we have a solid plan."  The prep for FLORENCE kicked into high gear last FRIDAY with internal meetings, with each department assigned a role and meeting "multiple times a day to disseminate information to all departments – adjusting as FLORENCE adjusts – it’s all hands in the middle."

DOLLAR noted that CUMULUS Regional Dir./Engineering SOUTHEAST JUSTIN TUCKER — "one of the best" — has ensured that the cluster has full building generator redundancy with multiple days of fuel, and redundant fiber and coaxial Internet backed up by LTE; the tower sites are also set up with generators capable of running the stations at full power for multiple days, and STLs are backed up with emergency cellular-based STLs in case any of the RF paths are lost.  "After making sure our teams are safe from harm’s way," DOLLAR added, "our responsibility as broadcasters is to keep the community informed.  Engineering works hand in hand with programming to make sure that is possible.   Infrastructure is critical and we are lucky to be working for CUMULUS MEDIA, (which is) putting a lot of resources into our technology."
 
The cluster  — News-Talk WTMA-A, Top 40 WSSX (95SX), Urban WWWZ (Z93 JAMZ!), Urban AC WMGL (MAGIC 107.3), and Country WIWF (96.9 NASH FM) — will be "committed to staying live and local as much as possible," with WTMA taking the lead in generating news and updates for all stations and crosstown SINCLAIR ABC affiliate WCIV-DT2 (ABC4), the stations' media partner, providing more coverage. "With projected power outages radio becomes increasingly important," DOLLAR said.  "Being the lifeline for the community, the partnership extends community resources and ensures the necessary communication to get through the Hurricane and, just as important, post-event, to help get everyone back to where they need to be and community put back together."  The stations are ready to go wall-to-wall with coverage if conditions warrant, using WTMA across all five signals with morning host CHARLIE JAMES and OM BILL WEST coordinating programming using talent from all five stations. "We have gone wall to wall and will do it again, pre, during and post event if necessary."
 
As for social media and online, DOLLAR said that guidelines for continuous posting by talent are in place on all platforms, and that streaming is "a critical part of the plan. We are speaking to two audiences — those that are in their vehicles evacuating and those that chose to hunker down and ride it out.  Both equally important. We need to use on-air, on-line, social media – all of our assets to get current information out timely. We have a very dedicated Marketing/Digital Manager, LEAH DOWNS, who will be located off-site handling website updates and assisting with listener engagement." For staffers, "Safety is priority 1," DOLLAR said, with a list of employees who will remain behind to work and others who are evacuating, and plans in place to cover the situation with an opt-in text message system in place for employees in case email is unavailable to them, and VPN access has been established for off-site employees to work remotely.

And on radio's value in emergencies, DOLLAR added, "Radio is personal. Radio is a friend.    Radio has a way of prompting a feeling of being in a 'safe' place. Radio reminds the community they are not alone – we are in the trenches with them. During a crisis that will almost ensure power outages Radio becomes even more important. Everyone needs information. No one wants to feel alone — hearing that voice that you know so well and that you listen to daily has a calming effect.  It’s like listening to a long-time friend that you trust.”

Richmond Gets Ready

ENTERCOM/RICHMOND SVP/Programming ZAC DAVIS noted, "We’re closely watching the forecast track of FLORENCE. We have hotels within walking distance (if need be) that essential staff will be staying at. We have our generators gassed up. Our towers have been checked out by Engineering and are ready to weather the storm. We have talent/liners/promos alerting listeners to stay with (respective station) for up to the minute information on the air and on the Radio dot com app.  

"Being a FLORIDA Native and learning from some of the best (KEN HOLIDAY, ANDY MCDONALD and BILL MICK in MELBOURNE, I’m looking at you), I feel confident that our team is ready for what Florence is going to bring.

Being 95 miles inland from the shore as the crow flies, our biggest concerns are flooding with RICHMOND having its fifth wettest year on record. We also have partnerships with NBC 12 for weather and back up content/programming." 

Florence Meets Fayetteville

BEASLEY MEDIA GROUP/FAYETTEVILLE, NC OM RANDY BLISS sets the scene there: "We have a very robust plan in place for our six radio stations. Of course this region is still reeling from the effects of HURRICANE MATHEW, less than two years ago.

"We are developing a time line for going into full, wall-to-wall coverage, and have TV partners in the RALEIGH market, that we will be using for additional information. Staff will most likely be coming in THURSDAY night and staying for some time. We have made arrangements for water and food, and are planning one really big sleep-over. We have street teams in station vehicles on the streets looking for water and other necessities, which by the way are already scarce. We are in full ‘Prep' mode on all of our stations already, with the majority of content, on the air and in social media dedicated to prepping for the storm. 

"The stations all have newly updated mobile apps and we are actively pushing downloads of the apps, which will allow folks to stay tuned in even after they lose power. We plan to continue to broadcast via streaming should any or all of our stations face  off-air situations. We also have a contingency plan to combine some our brands into a simulcast at some point so we can consolidate staff and pool our efforts together.

"Both FOXY 99 and WKML have long relationships with local officials, police departments, charities, city and county government, and of course FT. BRAGG. We are tapped into all relevant information on all of those fronts and share all the info on the air and in our digital assets.

"I’ve been involved with hurricane situations at a number of stations over the years, including HUGO in CHARLOTTE in the '80s plus numerous storms while working in NORFOLK, and while I hate the potential destruction, I also relish the opportunity to really serve the community, and find these situations great teaching moments for young broadcasters. We’re here, before, during and after, doing what we do.

More radio efforts can be found here.

Broadcasters In Need Have Help

THE BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION OF AMERICA is preparing for an influx of emergency grant applications in the wake of HURRICANE FLORENCE. Broadcasters whose personal lives or property are acutely affected by HURRICANE FLORENCE are encouraged to find out if they quality for an emergency grant by visiting https://broadcastersfoundation.org/hurricaneflorence/.

THE BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION Emergency Grant Relief Program provides an expedited application process that is streamlined to deliver emergency funds as quickly as possible to qualifying individuals who work (or have worked in broadcasting. Emergency grants are based on financial need. This year, THE BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION Board of Directors elected to double the maximum amount of an individual emergency grant from $1,000 to $2,000. This increase is  significant when considering that last year more than $300,000 was awarded to individual victims of a rash of disasters that included Hurricanes HARVEY, IRMA and MARIA, as well as wildfires and floods.

For more than 70 years, THE BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION has distributed millions of dollars to thousands of needy broadcasters and their families. To learn more about emergency or monthly grants or to donate, please contact the BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION at (212) 373-8250 or info@thebfoa.org or visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org.

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     </p><br/>Published at Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:53:59 +0000

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