Radio never warned me (regarding Spfld tornado)

Scott Fybush
Thu Jun 9 20:02:47 EDT 2011

Piecing together what's been reported on this list, in other media 
outlets and what I've heard directly from those in the market, it sounds 
as though WHYN/CC Spfld was not especially quick at getting coverage up 
and running - hence the complaints of missed warnings and the ongoing 
simulcast of Howie Carr - but ramped up coverage once the extent of the 
storm became clearer and stayed with that ramped-up coverage until 
sometime after 11 PM on as many of the cluster's stations as could be 
kept on the air.

That's far from perfect...but hardly a total dereliction of duty, 
either. It would be nice to think that some learning opportunities can 
come from the experience, so that stations with small/nonexistent local 
staffs outside of drive time (and that's most stations, these days) can 
better figure out how to cope in situations like this one.

It may be that the best answer lies in making more use of TV simulcasts. 
 From all accounts, the Springfield TV stations (especially WWLP, but 
also WSHM and WGGB) did a bang-up job of warning viewers about the 
storms and tracking them as they passed through. I understand that one 
of the other radio clusters in Springfield ended up going to a simulcast 
of WWLP's audio for a while. There are worse things they could have 
done, especially if the TV people are aware that they're also on radio 
and modify their broadcasts accordingly (none of this, "as you can see 
here on this part of the map..." stuff...)

In parts of the country where severe weather is a more regular part of 
life, station groups seem to get this. The Zimmer Radio cluster in 
Joplin was surely no larger than CC/Springfield (or Saga, or Citadel), 
but they seemed to be right on the ball when their community needed them.

Consolidation is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, yes, it can lead to 
situations like WHYN, where there evidently wasn't anyone on hand able 
to make the decision to go to storm coverage sooner. But on the other 
hand, it also makes possible a response like we just saw last week in 
Dickinson, North Dakota, where an FM tower on a butte collapsed after 
the ground gave way under one of the guy anchors after very heavy rain. 
Within a few hours, senior CC engineers were on their way to Dickinson 
to get a makeshift transmission setup on the air, and they were quickly 
followed by one of Clear Channel's "towers on wheels," those nifty 
mobile setups that include a generator, a frequency-agile transmitter, a 
tower and antenna. How many mom-and-pop stations or small groups could 
ever have assembled one of those...much less several of them, stationed 
so that there's always one within a day's drive of any station that 
might need it?


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