If FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to find out about broadcast localism, he has an invitation to come to Iowa. But he might want to bring his galoshes. Sue Toma, Executive Director of the Iowa Broadcasters Association, has written to Martin to tell him what’s been going on as local radio and television stations dealt with getting information out to their local communities as flooding led to 83 of the state’s 99 counties being declared disaster areas. And now, as the flood waters recede, it is the broadcasters who are leading the way to raise charitable donations to relief efforts. “This is our finest hour,” Toma declared.
Her letter to the FCC Chairman described how timely and often life-saving information ahs been provided non-stop by Iowa broadcasters for the past few weeks. The state was devastated as flooding ranged across most of Iowa and brought “death, destruction and financial hardship” to hundred of thousands of people.
Although many station employees had to battle flood waters themselves, stations were on the air around the clock, many times commercial-free, providing vital coverage to their communities.
"I can’t help but note that the Iowa floods come at a time when well-meaning but misguided activists are questioning broadcasters’ commitment to localism. My response: Spend time in Iowa, and see first-hand how local radio and TV stations are serving our communities during perhaps the worst flooding in a century. Iowa broadcasters have once again proven their exemplary commitment to the communities that we serve, without the need for more mandates, paperwork and unnecessary regulation," Toma wrote Chairman Martin.
RBR/TVBR observation: As was the case with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and countless other disasters, it has been radio and TV stations providing vital local information in Iowa and other states hit by the recent floods. They have often been the only local links for communications, with electricity and phone service, including cellular, knocked out for long periods of time. Like Toma, we can’t figure out how a bunch of new paperwork would help them do that better.