Radio Stations After a Local Disaster
Kevin Felts 09.20.17
After the power went out during Hurricane Harvey, the lanterns, and AM/FM radio were set up. The local radio station in Jasper, (KJAS), seemed to be off the air. KJAS has a backup generator, and I was sure they would be back up and running in no time. So while my wife and I were waiting on the local station, a Houston station was tuned in.
The Houston station will not be named.
We are looking at how big corporate-owned stations responded during a disaster, as compared to the small locally-owned stations.
Keep in mind, Houston was in the middle of a thousand-year storm. The whole coastal region of Texas from Corpus Christi to Orange was a disaster area:
- Thousands of people were having to be rescued.
- Interstate 10 near Beaumont, Texas was closed and traffic rerouted.
- A bridge collapsed on hwy 96, just north of Lumberton, Texas.
- Emergency shelters were being set up all along the coastal regions of Texas.
- Tens of thousands of people were without power.
After four hours of listening to the Houston radio station, I heard ZERO information on Harvey or emergency services. When people needed information, the Houston radio station acted like Harvey never happened. They continued to play music and commercials as if nothing had happened.
It did not take KJAS four hours to get up and running. Usually, they are back on the air in just a few minutes. We tuned in the Houston station and forgot to dial in KJAS.
Locally Owned Radio
KJAS out of Jasper did an excellent job of providing information. They even had the mayor of Jasper on the radio talking about the power outage. When volunteers were setting up to cook hamburgers for people in Jasper, Mike Lout (the owner of KJAS) was on the radio telling listeners where to get hot food.
When I called KJAS, a live person answered and we spoke for maybe five minutes.
The example set by KJAS is how radio stations should act after a local disaster. After a disaster, most people are only able to receive information through their AM/FM radios. Even if it means sitting in their car or truck, they should be able to pick up a local radio station.
If radio stations do not provide emergency information, how are people supposed to be informed?