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WBOC Teamed With Clear Channel for Hurricane Simulcasts

Add WBOC Salisbury, Md., to the ranks of TV stations doing what it takes to keep viewers informed during emergencies, something it wants the National Association of Broadcasters to keep in mind as it lobbies for spectrum and the future of the medium.

While WJAR Providence, R.I., simulcast its noon news on a local radio station Aug. 29 so residents without power could still get the news over battery-powered radios, WBOC, a combination CBS and Fox (multicast channel) affiliate with a 53-person newsroom, made sure viewers (or listeners) could still get life-saving info, simulcasting multiple newscasts on multiple stations.

According to GM Craig Jahelka, it struck a deal with Clear Channel Radio to carry its newscasts on Clear Channel's four FMs and two AMs in the market.

The stations promoted the move before the storm and during coverage that when power went out, they could still use their radios to tune to the coverage. According to Jahelka, thousands of viewers did lose power.

"This was yet another instance of local broadcasters working together to serve the public interest, protect lives and deliver emergency information in a time of life-threatening conditions.  People noticed and have and still are, thanking us for it," Jahelka said in an e-mail to the National Association of Broadcasters, a copy of which was supplied by the station to B&C.

"I thought you might want to be aware of and pass along to [NAB President] Gordon Smith as you lobby congress about the importance of local broadcasters. I believe it's a story we should shout from the rooftops."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.