Hurricane Michael may have delivered a fatal blow to four radio stations operated by the Powell Broadcasting in Panama City, Florida.
Powell reports it has ceased operations at the following stations:
- Country WKNK Kick'n 103.5 (100 Kw)
- Variety Hits WASJ 105.1 BobFM (50 Kw)
- Classic Rocker WRBA 95.9 FM (50 Kw)
- CHR WPFM 107.9 FM (54 Kw)
Powell also owns six stations in Sioux City, Iowa and Powell/Panama City Market Manager Jeff Storey told sister station KSCJ 1360 that their 150 foot STL tower snapped in half punching a hole in the roof of the studio building allowing water to rush in.
Powell Broadcasting COO Robert Bond told RadioInsight, “We have made the difficult decision to cease broadcasting operations in Panama City. Hurricane Michael did catastrophic damage to our physical plant to the point that rebuilding was uneconomic. We wish the entire Panama City community Godspeed in rebuilding.”
Some of the now unemployed staffers of the company lost their homes.
Other Panama City stations served as a beacon of hope for those needing help, reports the News-Herald.
“You feel good because you’re helping; you’re doing something,” Tess Connell, a morning DJ on WPAP 92.5 FM, said of the overwhelming number of calls the station received Friday. “I know that feeling of helplessness is debilitating. But at the same time, it makes you realize just how bad some of these people’s situations are.”
iHeartMedia stations WPAP, WFSY Sunny 98.5 and WDIZ 96 Rock simultaneously broadcast non-stop information about Hurricane Michael relief efforts. According to DJ Dr. Shane Collins, they were staying on the air with Wifi signal and generator power.
But the good news was scarce. News of destruction was constant.
Paco, a 96 Rock DJ, was using the iHeart Radio van to find and rescue people when he was able. On air, he explained how he had gone out to neighborhoods and taken people to shelters. Paco's own home suffered storm damage.
“Right now, it’s not about if you got damaged, it’s about how much damage you got,” Paco said of Panama City’s condition.
“We’re able to go out as much as we can, but we have to conserve fuel as well,” Connell said. “We’re taking six-hour air shifts. ... When we can go back out, we will announce that if people see a iHeart Radio vehicle to wave it down.”
As they got word of what stores were opening, where search-and-rescue efforts were taking place and locations of where people could pick up donations, they shared what they had.