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September 1, 2014

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First Mediaworks


10/03/05 Radio's Proud Heroes

Shivers tingle in my spine when I think about the vast impact radio has had on the lives of people within the Katrina storm zone. The moment the power went out, the televisions went off - but radio remained on the air to instruct and protect people through the storm. Radio remained on the air. Employees at storm zone radio stations worked countless hours without rest, food, or water because they knew the community needed them in order to survive. During the storm aftermath, radio stations in New Orleans put their competitive differences aside and banned together to simulcast the same information on most frequencies, enabling the city to turn to radio as the ONLY means of communication.

There are countless heroes in New Orleans radio, some whose names will never be known. At Entercom's WWL, an exhausted Dave Cohen kept broadcasting while the windows in the studio blew out. Cohen, Gerald Robbinette, and colleagues were able to rig up a more secure broadcasting location pot inside the building away from the windows. Listeners heard the horror of the storm with a literal blow-by-blow description. Finally, WWL employees had to escape to the basement of an emergency operations center, risking their own lives to stay on the air.

Radio station employees chose to stay on the air and save the lives of listeners as the storm blew through the Gulf States, risking their own lives in the process. Many lost their homes, and did not know the status of their families.

Radio people like these and countless others whose individual stories I have not yet heard make radio a great business. Radio always comes through when the power goes out, when the newspapers and mail cannot be delivered. In New Orleans, radio saved lives. For weeks, radio was the only means of communicating with citizens.

Radio is the heart of every community. Radio enlists the citizens of the community to come to the rescue of others. Radio stays on the air while others cannot. Radio is the only link to the community, offering information and comfort to people as the huddled masses shutter with fear in shelters and attics.

I am proud of my sisters and brothers in radio in New Orleans, Gulfport, Baton Rouge, Jackson, and all the small communities impacted by hurricane Katrina. I am proud of those who risked their lives, who saved lives, who put their own needs aside to help others. I am proud of the radio stations across the U.S. who sprang into action to raise money, to coordinate relief efforts, to find housing. I'm proud of the efforts made by the NAB, the RAB, the Broadcaster's Foundation, and many others.

Moments like these make radio history. When we get caught up in all the things wrong with radio, events like this give us clarity and purpose. We may be there to entertain, play music, talk, joke, and inform - but when the time comes, we're there to save communities.

I'm proud to be a part of radio, and I am proud of each of you.


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