The Ambushers film Take a look at your local radio station website. I’m not talking about those owned by any of the big guys, I’m talking the “mom and pop” operations – true local radio. How difficult would it be for someone, anyone, from a radio station staff to put up emergency information (at the very least) in a time of crisis? Granted you may not have an on air staff to handle wall-to-wall on air coverage of an emergency event, but with Internet technology what it is today, with a little legwork early on, pretty much anyone can handle a website created in Joomla, Mambo, or WordPress (just to name a few CMS-type programs) and get the information out to the masses, merging together the old technology (radio) with new (internet).
Case in point: Parts of New England were paralyzed by a ice storm of historic proportions in December 2008. The list of cancellations and information being scrolled at the bottom of the television screen was blinding. I took a look at local radio station websites covering the region and what did I see? Nothing. Not a stitch of local information. Most of them didn’t even mention the storm on their websites, outside of some generic widget showing national news headlines, or some generic weather feed. If done during a crisis, maybe management would begin to see the value of the Internet as a partner in the medium rather than just a place to get people to sign up for their “Listener Club” and to see head shots of on-air personalities.
Some would argue that there are now so many other sources of information on the web, that having it on a radio station website would just be overkill. Not so. Why do you tell listeners to go to your website to listen online, register for contests and become members of so-called VIP clubs, but not tell them to visit your website in a time of crisis or emergency?
KUDOS – goes to the staff and management of WEIM in Fitchburg. (Disclosure statement: I once worked for Bill Macek, the current owner of WEIM and consider him a good friend – and he’s one of my Haverhill City Councilors…) A couple of days after the storm (which ravaged the Fitchburg area), I gave Bill a call and was heartened to hear that while he was off the air for some time during the storm, once he was able to get back on the air (with the assistance of the City of Fitchburg and a generator), the staff did was local radio is supposed to do – inform the public, and in some cases become a lifeline. Ben Parker, Ray C and the staff at WEIM gave Greater Fitchburg listeners the information they needed, and from what I understood from Bill – they didn’t even have to break format in the process. So – they did their job as a local radio station, didn’t break format, and maybe picked up a couple of new listeners in the process? Sounds like a winning formula to me.
PS: Special thanks to http://hidama.tv/ for finding a bit of a flaw with the comment section of my site…whew!