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Friends, Indeed

Tsunami relief was the first priority of many broadcasters after the Dec. 26 disaster in Southeast Asia killed an estimated 31,000 people and left millions homeless or otherwise devastated.

Just a sampling from the National Association of Broadcasters’ At Your Service newsletter found Belo stations raised $3.6 million; Hubbard’s seven TV and radio stations in Minnesota raised $152,000; Scripps Howard’s WXYZ Detroit brought in $1.2 million. And there were many more such efforts.

Every day, hundreds of TV stations serve the public in ways that don’t always win awards or make the news:

  • KRON San Francisco (Young Broadcasting) broadcasts Students Rising Above, a series helping low-income high schoolers in the Bay Area who have overcome long odds and hope to go to college. Parentless, homeless or even raising their own younger siblings, these deserving kids receive hope for a bright future when viewers are asked to donate to a college-scholarship fund. A separate fund provides money for mentors and living expenses. The series was created in 1998 by anchor Wendy Tokuda.
  • The bitter national battle over the Terry Schiavo right-to-die case prompted an unusual effort by KYTV (Schurz Communications) in Springfield, Mo. The station teamed with the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association to offer viewers a chance to fill out a free living will directing their health care in the event that they are incapacitated. Lawyers and notary publics gave free assistance in sessions at the public library.
  • KSAS and KSCC Wichita, Kan., (Clear Channel) have “adopted” a local fourth-grade media class that is focused on television production. KSAS anchor Jarrod Bartlett recently visited to demonstrate news reading for the class, timed the students’ own efforts, and told them the things you learn in math and English class really do matter when you’re a reporter. The fourth-graders now produce their own newscast.
  • The four broadcast-network affiliates in Medford, Ore., did their part to stop drug abuse—with a roadblock. The stations came together on Jan. 30 to broadcast a half-hour documentary on the drug problem, The New Marijuana, and also held a news conference for student journalists with law enforcement, drug-abuse counselors and three teens in treatment for addiction. Participating were KOBI (California Broadcasting), KTVL (Freedom Broadcasting), KDRV (Chambers Communications) and KMVU (Northwest Broadcasting).
  • And those stations weren’t the first or the only ones in Oregon to conduct such an effort. In Eugene, it was the sixth year for a joint anti-drug effort by KEZI (Chambers Communications), KLSR (California-Oregon Broadcasting), KMTR (Clear Channel) and KVAL (Fisher Broadcasting). The stations’ One Voice—Media United Against Drugs and Alcohol featured anchors from each station in a town-hall meeting with 150 high schoolers from across the area who discussed their issues with and experiences concerning substance abuse. Some 20 area radio stations also supported the program.
  • WBNS Columbus, Ohio, (Dispatch Broadcast Group) made one of its most valuable efforts by getting others to participate. The station beefed up its “Show You Care—and Vote!” campaign with the debut of the “Show You Care and Vote” van at local events. The van crew would register voters, provide election information and record “Sound off” messages to appear in vignettes during the evening news. More than a thousand voters had registered via the van by September.
  • Helping student broadcasts—and catching a groove: That is what station KJZI(FM) Minneapolis (Clear Channel) was doing when it gave $25,000 to rival jazz station KBEM(FM), a public-radio outlet. Dan Seeman. of Clear Channel Radio, Minneapolis, says he hoped it would be the start of “a long-term partnership.” The reason? KBEM, which had been hurt by the loss of a state contract for broadcasting traffic reports, is a prime training ground for the area’s high school broadcasters-to-be. KJZI will also broadcast PSAs urging listeners to support KBEM. There is something funky about that—in a good way.