The 2017 hurricane season has been especially lethal with Harvey and Irma wreaking havoc of historic proportions across wide swaths of the U.S. most notably in Texas and Florida.
As devastating as the loss of life and destruction of personal property has been, there have been countless inspiring human interest stories amid the tragedy. We’ve seen and heard tales of sacrifice, heroism, and valor among ordinary citizens and first responders to these storms. As is always the case when hardship hits the U.S., the best in our fellow citizens comes out in spades.
Our traditional first responders — police, fire, National Guard, EMT’s, doctors and nurses — rose to the occasion for the victims of Harvey and Irma. These heroes put the safety and well-being of the community ahead of everything else, including their own families. These brave and selfless men and women not only deserve our recognition, they demand our respect.
Another critically important group that unites our communities during natural disasters are the local broadcasters of the U.S. In the case of Harvey and Irma, it was the local radio and TV broadcasters in Texas and Florida, who were there for the local markets when the storms unleashed their fury.
When the people of Texas and Florida needed credible information on Harvey and Irma, local broadcasters stepped up to the plate to provide it in a way no one-person blog or non-local search engine could ever accomplish. The technology provided by local broadcasters during Harvey and Irma enabled millions of residents to find safe havens and clearly saved lives in the process. Only local broadcasters and local meteorologists were able to talk to the specific neighborhoods and towns in harm’s way to lead people to safety.
The local broadcasters were at the forefront to educate, inform, comfort, console and most importantly, protect the public before, during, and after Harvey and Irma. Their free, over-the-air signals were the epicenter of crucial news and information to help lead people to safety. When their communities needed them most, local broadcasters responded with bi-lingual, commercial free and around the clock coverage on their linear, digital and social platforms.
Local broadcasters trumped anything the national news media could provide because these storms were, in essence, local stories. Trusted TV and Radio brands and personalities were what people needed and the local broadcasters of Texas and Florida were there for them at every turn. Perhaps most importantly, local broadcasters stayed behind in the markets they serve when the cable news networks folded up their tents and left town. Local broadcasters across the U.S. are there for their communities for the long haul.
It’s inevitable that we will face future natural (and unnatural) disasters. Wherever and whenever they might happen, our local TV and radio broadcasting groups will be ready with their free, over-the-air, streaming, digital and social platforms to provide the most comprehensive coverage for the local community and the nation.
Paul Curran is market VP for Cox Media Group Orlando consisting of WFTV TV (ABC), WRDQ TV (Ind), News 96.5 WDBO, K92.3, Star 94.5, Power 96.5, WMMO 98.9, ESPN 580, Solo Exidos 107.3, and Cox Events.
Mark Krieschen is VP & market manager for Cox Media Group Houston: KKBQ (93Q), Country Legends 97.1, The Eagle 106.9 &107.5, and CMG Local Digital Solutions.
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