Radio and Rising Water


One of the reasons I am such die-hard fan of radio is that I’ve been through the aftermath of a natural disaster. Once you’ve had radio as your sole lifeline, you gain a much greater appreciation of the medium.  Since my own experiences were with the aftermath of New Orleans flooding after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failure, it always gives me a bit of a twinge when I see flooding in other places.

This time it’s the Red River which is currently flooding the Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorehead, Minnesota, area — the latest of several flooding issues they have faced from its banks in recent years. (By way of noticing the repetitive nature of the flooding, take a look at the photo above. It’s from the same area in April 2009.)  As is usually the case, radio is there at the front lines creating an information network as Mother Nature throws a tantrum. Radio Business Report decided to check in on the area’s local radio to see what was happening:

With Internet streaming, RBR-TVBR was able to check in Friday to hear how the News/Talk stations in Fargo were handling the situation. As you would expect, both KFGO-AM and WDAY-AM were wall to wall with flood coverage and emergency information.

We listened as KFGO wrapped up live coverage of a meeting by North Dakota’s governor with local officials, with the reporter closing out the broadcast by noting that “The Mighty 790” was “Live, Local and First.” The station was preparing to broadcast live coverage a similar visit from the governor of Minnesota, also on Friday, as the river continued to rise.

RBR-TVBR observation: Nothing unusual, really. It was exactly what we expected to hear. It is the strength of local radio and why it has remained a vital media force throughout the US for nearly 90 years – despite the misinformation you hear from critics inside the Beltway.

And I have to agree with them wholeheartedly. Internet does no good if it’s down, and while it’s better nowadays, I’d wager it’s still nearly impossible to find wi-fi in a disaster zone. Cell signals can be spotty at the best of times; Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” ads trade on this common knowledge. Think about how much worse it is when most of the towers are down as well. But radio, sweet radio, can be picked up easily with a wide variety of portable receivers — something especially important while the flooding is still going on as situations can change rapidly.

Our thoughts are with those in the Red River area tonight.

Image:  soldiersmediacenter / CC BY 2.0


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