We Were Only Six Blocks From Hurricane Sandy. What A Rush!
This American flag just outside Greater Media's WRAT in Lake Como, New Jersey didn't look like this before Sandy paid a visit to the East Coast. WRAT is located six blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, lined up perfectly in the kill zone of the softly named storm that packed a powerful punch. Greater Media employees, who had to worry about their roof being ripped off, stood their ground throughout Sandy to deliver life-saving information to the community. The hurricane left an ugly path of devastation that stretched across communities, cities, and states. And Old Glory still stands outside WRAT, not as pretty as she once was, but a strong symbol of how the Greater Media team performed under pressure. Dan Finn is the Market Manager for Greater Media in New Jersey. Finn says when an event like this happens, there's an element of danger, but it's also an adrenaline rush. Here's Finn's Sandy story, in his own words.
"It was an adrenaline rush. It was providing the best content possible. It was all about teamwork. We became the gathering point for the community. When power was lost, television and cable were irrelevant. Our responsibility was to gather and disburse critical information at this time when television and cable were nonexistent. Internally, there was the energy of doing goodwill for the community and at that same time, there was an element of danger, especially in Belmar and Lake Como, where WRAT is six blocks off the beach. The building was literally shaking. There was the fear of the roof being ripped off or there being a physical catastrophe with the physical structure because of our close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. That didn't happen. Thank God that didn't happen. But, there was nervousness in the air at the same time of providing live coverage of what was going on outside of the building."
"We have a responsibility as broadcasters to remain on the air. There were enough precautions to make sure that the staff was not in any danger, to the best of our capability. We weren't foolish about that aspect of it. We were confident with the building that it would remain intact, and it did. But, we have a responsibility to the public, from where we were reporting and what was going on in real-time that was capable of delivering extremely powerful radio."
"We suspended all promos and give-aways. We were making it available to the listeners that they would be made aware of what was going on. We were taking all the information from listener call-ins, from FEMA, from local town officials, from Emergency Management, across all areas. Then, we were rebroadcasting and letting people know where to seek shelter, where to bring pets, where to get food, which gas stations may be open. We were taking the information and putting it right back out to the community."
"At the same time with social media, before the storm hit, we were updating with information from NOAA, the Red Cross, and FEMA. What was going on with the storm, where it was and what that meant. It was constantly updated. So, we hit it on both ends, with social media and on air, but keeping in mind that a lot of people didn't have power. So a lot of people didn't have the Internet. Even smartphones started to not be effective because a lot of the power at certain cell sites was out. It was that severe. Radio was absolutely the place to get your information, tried and true."
"We were so close. The water came up from the ocean, pretty much right up to where the building was, which was unheard of for the Atlantic Ocean, to come all the way up six blocks. The RAT is a true standalone station. It is the only station there. It is basically a shed. It is an aluminum shed, with a tower in the back. It has a lot of character."
The tattered American flag continues to fly outside WRAT as a symbol of what the station and the community went through and what Greater Media employees did to help their fellow citizens.
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