This past weekend, the high waters came to Nashville, TN. They are calling it the “100 Year Flood” down there, and as someone who has been through flooding before, my heart goes out to the people of their community. It is often said that country music is, like the blues, mostly songs about pain (lost my wife, lost my job, drinking again, etc). Now, unfortunately, there is more than enough of that pain to go around.
As the Cumberland River makes inroads into the downtown Nashville area, the local radio stations and personalities are doing what radio does best at times like this: finding ways to serve their community.
Let’s take the local Clear Channel affiliate as an example (as reported by AllAccess):
CLEAR CHANNEL Country WSIX/NASHVILLE has continuous coverage on their website atwww.wsix.com, where listeners can see photos from all over the Middle TENNESSEE region, as well as a live webcam from Downtown NASHVILLE, as flood waters continue to rise as the CUMBERLAND RIVER crests.
PD KEITH KAUFMAN said: “We remained on the air the entire time and we had updated information every 10 minutes all weekend. The information was coming in so fast that we decided to go with wall-to-wall coverage for an extended period of time. GERRY HOUSE (morning personality) and BIG D (of PREMIERE RADIO NETWORKS‘ syndicated “BIG D & BUBBA” show) simply couldn’t make it in today. RICHARD FALKLEN (HOUSE FOUNDATION morning show producer) and PATRICK THOMAS (“BIG D & BUBBA” show producer) both have flooding in their homes. We’re in the midst of putting together a huge fundraiser for those affected. Flood insurance isn’t something a lot of folks around here elect to carry. I was able to fly over much of the affected area today. I’ve never seen anything like this. Listener submitted photos are incredible as well.”
And it is that sort of wall-to-wall coverage that is needed when the water is rising. Safety often depends on getting fast and accurate info in these sort of situations, and radio does not rely on power, cell towers, or wi-fi to operate.
It’s not just the access to information though; it is the radio people. Even the most easy-going of radio personalities can become a bulldog when disaster looms. Just take a look at WSM.
WSM-A/Nashville kept cranking out the coverage until 5:00 am on Monday when rising water forced an evacuation. They switched to backup programming and got out, only to return to live coverage by 8:00 am that same day from a new location. The word is that they may not be able to return to their studio in the Opryland Hotel for several months.
These are the times when radio is at its most community-oriented, and I’m sure we will hear many stories as the days progress about what the radio people of the area are doing in the fight against the elements.
Our hearts are with the people of Nashville during these times.