From 9-11 to Sandy CBS-880 is Always There For Listeners
There are lot of great stories coming out of radio in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. From stations prepared enough to stay on the air throughout the killer storm to radio companies dedicating valuable airtime to raise money and collect items for communities hit the hardest.
In our December 10th issue of Radio Ink Magazine we have an extensive report on what so many radio stations went through to stay on the air, inform listeners and help their communities. One station featured in that report is CBS-880 in New York City. The team at CBS, like so many others in New York City, has seen its share of horror, including terror attacks. Tim Scheld is the Director of News and Programming at the station. We spoke to Scheld about what it was like working at the station as the storm hit the City. Scheld, pictured here with New York Mayor Bloomberg, details what his people went trhough.
Scheld says he's had the privilege of working with one of the most experienced news staffs in America." "We've been through a lot. Seven blocks from where we are now, the World Trade Center was attacked and 3,000 of our citizens were killed. So, we've seen some pretty bad stuff down here and we've been through some pretty bad stuff as a community and as a radio station. To a certain degree, the storm was bad. But terror attacks trump it all. We have some seasoned pros who've seen some bad things and gotten through some bad things. I don't want to say it was scary, but if you were outside (during the storm) and you heard noises, you ran back inside. It was dark. We were in the blackout area. It was windy. The rain wasn't so bad. The emergency power in the building kicked in, but none of the cooling or air supply systems worked."
"During the overnight, it was warm. It was dark, you had to use a flashlight to go to the restroom. The emergency power just powered the radio station and the newsroom, not the hallways. Only on elevator was working. It was really dark on the streets. It was so dark when you looked out at Manhattan, you could actually see stars at night, which you never see in New York because the glow of the city's lights always obscures the stars. Half to three quarters of Manhattan was actually powered up. Other than the light of a police cruiser down the block, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. But there are people that lost their homes so we certainly weren't complaining. We were tired. We had reporters that didn't go to bed. We had reporters who couldn't get to their homes, so they stayed on the air at night. Just to hear some of the things that they were reporting, it was scary. It was scary to hear the water lapping up to the Battery and our reporter saying, "I've got to move my car. It's not going to survive if I don't move it." Then, the water pouring into the Battery Tunnel and the South Ferry Tunnel. We were watching that. Our reporter was describing that. He didn't get home. He spent the night in a fire company. They told him "don't drive. Stay here." We had a lot of heroic people."
Scheld says when you prepare for something like this, sometimes you forget the little things as you take care of the big things. "We hadn't thought about this...but your newsrooms are powered by coffee machines. So, we saw a flaw in our system in that the coffee machine and vending machine on our floor didn't work with the emergency power system. We were bitterly disappointed about that. There was a kitchen down on the 10th floor that thankfully did work. The engineering staff, days before, went out and bought pancake mix, pasta and some pasta sauce...enough food that twice a day for a couple of days, when we were without power, they were actually able to make breakfast for their staff and anybody else who was around. The morning after the hurricane, Tuesday morning, they served pancakes at 10 in the morning."
Thanks to Tim for sending us this picture of the storm damage from Breezy Point New York. Nearly 100 homes were destroyed in this area.
Congratulate Tim and his team for a job well done HERE
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