BRADENTON, Fla. — All is well right now, but last week, as Hurricane Irma screamed toward my home in Manatee County, Florida, the lights went out, the TV screen went blank, the phones went dead, the image on the computer screen vanished, the iPad lost connection with the Internet. So, there I was sitting in the dark as the roaring wind and the pounding rain lashed my house — isolated and completely out of touch with the outside world.
How was I to know what was going on and what to do? That was my concern until I spotted this small device — no bigger than a normal deck of playing cards — tucked in my bookcase. My goodness! It was a transistor radio! I checked it out. It had two AA batteries in its backside and when I snapped it on, there was sound…the sports/talk station that I had listened to most recently — WDAE in Tampa. But the sports/talk guys were not talking about the Rays game that was played the other day or the upcoming season of the Bucs. They were giving weather reports, road conditions, shelter locations…all the material you needed to know in order to have at least a chance at surviving a life-threatening hurricane.
And as I rolled across the dial to WFLA, Tampa — the news/talk station, and then on to WHNZ (which normally features a lot of business/financial talk) — I heard the same two sports/talk guys. Obviously the owners of the area properties had combined all their functioning area outlets into a single programming effort to pass along as much needed storm information as possible.
Then, as suddenly as it happened, all the lights snapped back on, and all the other devices became operable. But, there was no way I was going to turn off that little radio, not knowing if there was going to be another complete loss of power.
So I stuck with the familiar voices. Among them were Jack Harris, the long-time, regular morning host on WFLA, and Todd Schnitt the Florida radio pro who hosts mornings on WOR, New York and whose syndicated afternoon show is heard on WHNZ. They both pulled extra-long, four-to-five hour shifts more than once during the worst of the storm, offering critical information. They also took listener calls who described their individual, personal situations — some of whom were able to offer useful tips for dealing with specific neighborhood challenges.
These on-the-air hosts, their fellow broadcasters, and behind-the-scenes compatriots must be commended for their sterling performances, even though a good number of them were under the same personal pressures as the rest of us.
There was another clear message in all of this. We all have our hi-tech paraphernalia, but there is only one thing that can top all of it during this kind of emergency. It’s called “radio.”
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: email@example.com.