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How Did Radio Do With Isaac?


So far we've heard from Dick Lewis at Clear Channel in New Orleans who says the storm was a little bit more than everyone expected. He says the storm was very slow moving, at only 6MPH, even backing up at times. "The intensity and duration sap resources, strain equipment and initiate a whole different dynamic for responders and the community. I have ever heard cabin fever as a problem linked to a hurricane before." Here's more from Lewis on how the station help up during Isaac.

How did your equipment hold up and how did the changes you made after Katrina help? 
Equipment performed well considering the situation.  Hurricanes put everything and everyone to the test because they throw so much at you -- high winds, pounding rain, floods and tornados.  Compounding all of this is the duration of the event.  Conditions last for hours and, in the case of Isaac, days.  Lessons from Katrina plan for things to break.  Something is going to shut down usually at the worst possible time!  So we have multiple paths for programming to transmitters, back up transmitters, and back up antenna sites.  We no longer rely on a single anything including the plan.  As a company we make disaster planning and community service a part of daily life.  We dont wait for an event to happen to address possibilities.  With a company as large as we are there is always a community in crises so our plans are always updating.

Talk about how your team performed on the air (and off)?
I could not be more pleased with the performance of the team.  The on-air teams were spectacular.  Right now Im listening to Denny Shaffer, Adrian Long and Loretta Petit one of our three on air teams working with a caller whose mother is trapped in an attic.  Mom was not able to reach emergency services.  Our team is coordinating rescue with the police right now on the air.  There is not a higher calling than saving lives.  RADIO does it every day. However, the on-air team can only be as good as the support around them. Producers, news, board ops, engineering, admin, food service it takes everyone performing at a high level to produce a great on-air product.  Personally, its gratifying to see what this group is accomplishing.

What did you focus on on the air? 
Lifesaving emergency information is first priory.  It becomes an art when the necessary information is delivered in an interesting, captivating, trust building presentation.

How was the communication in the community? Do you think listeners were able to hear the station, be it on their phones, radios etc?
Over 75% of New Orleans is without power tonight.  Large areas lost cable TV.  Satellite TV for long periods could not penetrate the heavy rain and clouds.  New Orleans could only rely on RADIO for information.  Isaac did create a first for us --- callers that were listing to us via iHeartRadio.  Their quick means of connecting was the cell phone.  Communication is changing.  What does not change is the reliance on RADIO when it really matters. 

(8/30/2012 9:41:34 AM)
Don's absolutely right. Even Wikipedia notes:

After the hurricane, WWL's emergency coverage was simulcast on the frequencies of numerous other radio stations. The broadcast was named "The United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans"; mostly WWL staff appeared on-air. The United Radio Broadcasters were a partnership between Entercom and competitor Clear Channel Communications.

- neil harrison
(8/30/2012 7:43:35 AM)
To Phil Beckman, WWL would not have existed during Katrina if not for Clear Channel studios, equipment, and personnel. Somehow they managed to claim all the credit, even though 100% of Katrina coverage was generated in CC studios and side-by-side with CC staff.

- Don Gosselin
(8/30/2012 7:27:56 AM)
I have been disappointed in WWL's signal these last few days. Normally they come in fine here in SW FL 24/7. For the last couple of days, totally gone. Wonder if they are on reduced power? WWL did a great job during Katrina and I'll bet they are doing the same with Isaac.

- Phil Beckman
(8/30/2012 6:24:59 AM)
Now, you can get HD Radio mandated into cell phones! LOL!

- Right!

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