In today’s economy, with recent consolidations and a technological shift, many stations have cut their news staffs. Some stations have done away local news and news entirely. If your station uses mostly network or satellite-delivered or even voice-tracked local programming, there may be times where there is no one at your radio station at all.
What can you do when the big live news event happens?
Even without a news staff, RadioInfo suggests stations do the following:
1. How to prepare and train your present staff to function in different emergency situations
2. How to pull in emergency “reporters” when you need them most
3. What you need to have on hand when disaster strikes.
Alan Eisenson, who in 2010 was PD of iHeartMedia’s spoken word stations in Sacramento, lives with the reality of a news staff that’s a lot smaller than it used to be. Still, he’s prepared. “Because,” said Eisenson, ”even if you have a skeletal news staff, when events happen and calls start pouring into the station, the receptionist or board op or webmaster is overwhelmed, and the GM yells, ‘Do something!,’ you have to have a plan.”
Eisenson suggests, “Arrange in advance for any stations in your cluster or area that have news staffs to record reports for stations that don’t. Have them sent over by WAN, or any other method you can get onto your airwaves. You may need to use any or all of your frequencies to disseminate life saving information.”
➤VALERIE GELLER’S EMERGENCY PREP POINTS TO COVER WITH ALL STAFF:
- How to maintain credibility in order to collect, gather and verify that information is correct before it goes to air.
- How to get in touch with local authorities on the scene who can give you credible information.
- What is the right time and place for listener calls?
- What role should Twitter and other social media play in disaster or major event coverage?
That said, you may be surprised to find hidden and useful experience with talent you may have hiding right under your nose.
As KOA in Denver Managing Editor Jerry Bell pointed out, “You may be surprised to find that people on your sales staff may have had past on-air experience. It’s helpful to identify who they are and make them some of your go-to people in an emergency.”
Bell also recommends that you keep a “how to” guide in your studio for emergencies.
What goes into the Red Binder?
- Emergency numbers and contacts
- A map of where staffers live and numbers where they can be reached 24/7
- Guidelines for interviews.