Disasters Again



Disasters, they come up. On this blog more than most simply because I am a New Orleans native and a veteran of Katrina and the subsequent levee failures. As I write this, the area around Owensboro, KY, has been designated a federal disaster area, although the disaster is of a type far beyond my own personal experience. You see, I’ve always lived in the subtropics and snow is an alien worry to me.

As arctic winds, frozen rain, and the aforementioned snow have been blasting through regions north of me, the situation has become dangerous for those in the affected regions. This is where the fundamental commonality between blizzards, earthquakes, hurricane and other “acts of God” becomes apparent: communication fail.

Enter Cromwell Group.  According to Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, the radio stations owned by Cromwell have stayed on the air throughout the extreme weather. Just as in New Orleans when the waters ran deep, radio is the only lifeline and means of communication. Cell phones are out. Landlines are inoperative. Cable is down.

I know what that is like, and the idea of being frozen in terrifies me. As long as broadcast radio exists, there is a line of communication that is almost impossible to sever. You don’t even need batteries; I have three storm radios that are crank powered. You can get a good one for twenty bucks.

Radio Business Report carried my favorite quote about the situation, one that ties in with recent news I’ve written about here, FM on cell phones:

“If there ever was a case for FM receivers in cell phones, this is it,” [Bud] Walters [Owner of Cromwell Group] declared. “Everyone has a cell phone – now useless. The cell phone would not be useless if it had an FM radio in it,” he noted.

When I read that, I actually did hit myself on the forehead with the palm of my hand. As much as I remind people about the absolute necessity of radio during major infrastructure emergencies, I had not thought of that simple and natural extension.

So here is to Cromwell Group and Bud Walters! Having been there, I can tell you exactly how much your efforts mean to the people of your community. It is important. And your tip for the next time a disaster decides to happen? Make sure you have a cell phone you can get FM on…

Photo courtesy of Michael Filion, used under its Creative Commons licence


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