By Paul Rotella
MONROE TWP, N.J. — The Blizzard of March 2017 is only a few hours away. Soon, snow will begin to cover the Garden State. Predictions range from 6-24 plus inches, with the hidden treachery of an icy, wintery mix perhaps suppressing snow totals, but proving to be deceivingly dangerous. High winds, wet snow, sleet and ice, will surely give rise to downed power lines and cell phone disruptions, But don’t worry New Jersey: Your local radio broadcaster is on-the-air!
Right now, New Jersey’s dedicated broadcasters, always eager to serve, are already manning their posts, anticipating the storm and its aftermath, and ready to once again go into the breach, serving their audiences by historically providing them with the only source for important and perhaps life saving information they will need to prepare and make ready for the blizzard, and more importantly, to help the communities they serve get back to normal once the skies clear.
When severe weather threatens all forms of communication and information services, only radio, real radio, is always there, helping our audiences cope with the hazardous weather, providing valuable information, and helping them stay safe. It’s radio’s finest hour! And as the president of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, I could not be prouder of the wonderful work our broadcasters will be doing tonight, throughout the storm, and long thereafter.
Wind-toppled trees and power lines render the internet useless. Pure-play music services will be silenced. Cell phone service and access to all of the countless apps we enjoy will be challenged. The lights will be out, and many will be in the dark for days; cold and quiet, save for the solace that only broadcast radio can provide.
No other industry is as publicly spirited! A trusted friend and companion, New Jersey’s broadcasters never let you down. Management, talent, engineers, support staff, traffic personnel and producers will be on the job for you. Many will not get any sleep; many will have hunkered down at their stations for hours before the storm in preparation to report on it, often without the creature comforts we take for granted, so as to avoid any disruption of service to their audiences. They know that their loyal audiences are relying on them; to keep them informed, to give them comfort, and to keep them company. No matter what, broadcast radio is always there. It is a mission broadcasters relish.
So, as we brace for the winter storm named Stella this cold March night, let’s remember to make a concerted effort to show our appreciation for the craft we cherish; for the duty we have been entrusted with; for the privilege we have to serve in this industry, and remind our audiences and our leaders that we need to keep our vibrant broadcast community strong. We need to stop senseless regulations and legislation like the toxic Performance Tax. And we need to activate the FM chip in all smartphones right away. And, the NJBA supports an FM-based Emergency Alert System (EAS) for emergency messaging, Amber Alerts and public warnings. Because, only radio is always working, especially in times of emergency. Once and for all, I envision that this storm will compel the public to insist that this life-saving feature be activated on all smart phones. It is a matter of public safety and national security. So, let’s turn it on!
Stay safe New Jersey—and broadcasters—into the storm you go—God speed!
Paul Rotella is president/CEO of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.