A Sad, But Affirming, Reason Why Broadcast Media Matters

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The situation in Houston is unlike anything the U.S. has experienced since 12 years ago this week, when New Orleans suffered severe flooding and horrific damage from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


If it wasn’t for broadcast TV and radio, the entire population of the nation’s sixth-biggest DMA would be at a tremendous loss for information, and for interpersonal communication. Even a bit of entertainment through music to soothe the pain and stress would be gone.

It’s a message the nation’s broadcasters, together with the NAB and the RAB, need to send to every CMO, ad agency and Fortune 500 company with an marketing budget during non-emergency events. Why? Because it will remind them, as it did us, that radio and TV matter much more than Spotify, Pandora and any Sirius XM music-driven stream right now.

As RBR+TVBR has reported throughout the day Monday, Houston’s radio stations are doing a variety of things to keep the population informed — and even entertained.

But, it was a listen to Urban One’s top-rated Urban AC KMJQ-FM “Majic 102” that really sent the message that the RAB and NAB need to send to Madison Avenue.

In between gospel and R&B hits, on-air personalities were putting callers on the air who could not get through to local emergency services lines that were inundated with pleas for help.

These pleas went out on Majic 102’s airwaves.

In one break, during a 90-minute music sweep, the air personality said, “This is ‘The People’s Station,'” referencing its longtime motto. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Later, a female air personality revealed that all of the station’s airstaff had been at the Urban One offices and studios for the last four days. She noted that some have asked what they are doing for food.

That question was indirectly answered. They had food … but what was more important was if the listeners had food or access to it. The host put out a request for callers to dial in to Majic 102 with information on whether any convenience stores near them were open for business. The host then reminded listeners that their phone lines were open to handle any immediate rescue efforts.

This is the power of radio.

Meanwhile, every local TV station went above and beyond with amazing coverage. While KHOU-11 went off the air for a few hours after losing its main studio, Houston Public Media pitched in by offering it a secondary studio so it could remain on the air. Its street reporters valiantly reported for hours, keeping the station’s broadcasts from fading to black. On Sunday, KPRC-2 was wall-to-wall with excellent coverage of events as they unfolded.

These efforts continue today, as iHeart’s KTRH-AM 740 goes into its fifth day of wall-to-wall storm coverage.

Spotify and Pandora can’t do this.

This is the power of broadcast media. Share it, swear by it, and invest in it.

That’s what Madison Avenue needs to know.

The efforts of KHOU-11 were outstanding. This did not go unnoticed by NAB EVP/Communications Dennis Wharton. 

“The performance of KHOU-TV and other Texas broadcasters in the path of Hurricane Harvey has been nothing short of remarkable,” Wharton says. “NAB is so proud of the lifeline efforts of local stations to stay on the air and to keep people safe and informed. The terrible situation in Texas serves as another reminder of the importance and immediacy of lifesaving local broadcasting.”

Lastly, it was also reported Sunday morning (with no fresh information from the FCC) that cell phone service in four Texas counties was severely hampered by Hurricane Harvey.

While some nine radio stations were impacted, many other remain on the air. No TV station aside from KHOU-11 lost their signal, and KHOU-11 returned within hours thanks to the assistance of other TEGNA stations and the city’s big PBS member station.

Meanwhile, viewers across the country watching MSNBC, FOX News Channel and CNN largely have Houston’s local TV affiliates and O&Os to thank, with their boots-on-the-ground reporters doing incredible work with their camera crews.

The “fake news” is that broadcast media aren’t as relevant as social media anymore, in the ideas of the marketer.

Harvey, sadly but firmly, proves that broadcast media is important — not only for news and information, but also the company that cares so much about everyone in Houston that it is determined to help them get their lives and homes and jobs back as best as possible.

An investment in local radio and TV is the first step toward that goodwill goal.


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Adam R Jacobson is a veteran radio industry journalist and advertising industry analyst with general, multicultural and Hispanic market expertise. From 1996 to 2006 he served as an editor at Radio & Records.

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