Broadcasters irreplaceable as emergency first informers


When the chips are down and a community is in peril, citizens need information – often life-saving information. And as a rule, there is only one reliable source for this information – free over-the-air broadcast. NAB VP Communications Ann Marie Cumming said this was once again the case in 2011.

Cumming noted that many broadcasters take an active role on a daily basis. “Every day across America, local radio and television broadcasters serve communities in extraordinary ways: raising millions of dollars for charity, rescuing kidnapped children with AMBER Alerts, and creating awareness about important health and safety issues through public affairs programming.”

But its in times of strife that broadcasters shine – and perform in ways that are unmatched by any other medium. “Regardless of individual broadcasters’ level of commitment to public service, there is no role stations embrace more seriously than that of ‘first informer,’” wrote Cumming. “Indeed, during times of crisis, no technology can replicate broadcasting’s reliability in reaching mass audiences. It is also during these times when an ethos prevails among broadcasters — an ethos that compels stations to go ‘the extra mile’ for the safety and well-being of viewers and listeners.”

2011 was an especially challenging year. At one point Hurricane Irene was rampaging up the East Coast all the way from landfall in North Carolina to the furthest reaches of New England. Before that, portions of Alabama and Missouri were hit with devastating tornadoes.

Suffice it to say that when Irene was on the move, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate advised citizens to make use of local TV and radio for information. Enough said.

The full blog post can be read here.