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Houston Stations Hope For Business As Usual

With at least half of the DMA still without power in the wake of Hurricane Ike, stations are clamoring to get back to normal life. KTRK staffers are manning a phone bank, as a barrage of viewer calls are coming in. Viewers are complaining about their lack of power, says one staffer, or simply looking to vent their frustrations. Staffers, many without electricity at home too, can sympathize. 

Fox O&O KRIV partnered with the grocery chain Kroger to load a couple trucks with ice and water and, starting today, deliver essentials to hard-hit areas. KRIV also got a hand from its sister station in Austin, which delivered supplies to KRIV.  

Belo’s KHOU similarly is playing the part of a "public utility," reports the Houston Chronicle. Says KHOU News Director Keith Connors:

"We need to be there with consistent, credible information. We’re just a conduit, like a faucet. You should be able to turn us on and good information comes out."

He said one of his primary challenges Sunday was trying to resupply the station’s 10-person contingent on Galveston Island.

Chronicle reporter David Barron says the Houston stations were using a range of media to connect with the community. 

KPRC (Channel 2), KHOU (Channel 11), KTRK (Channel 13) and KRIV (Channel 26) began wall-to-wall storm coverage as early as Thursday and remained in that mode Sunday. 
Each continued to broadcast over the air and via their Internet sites.

Audio feeds also were available on radios configured to receive TV sound. The latter was a lifeline for many without power. Channel 11’s signal was simulcast on the three Cumulus Media radio stations, including KRBE (104.1 FM). Portions of Channel 13’s coverage were available on KUHT (88.7 FM). Channel 11 also broadcast on XM satellite radio and on DirecTV nationwide at channel 361.

All stations reported heavy traffic to their Web sites, including streaming video.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.