While Hurricane Hermine bore down on Florida after midnight Friday, the storm was tenacious in working its way up the East Coast through Georgia, North Carolina and Coastal Virginia before heading out to sea. And the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) shared summaries of how two independent radio groups served their communities during the weather event.
Inside Radio reported Tuesday on the valiant response from iHeartMedia stations in Tallahassee, and last week, as the storm was gathering strength, the GAB specifically cited Black Crow Media and Vidalia Communications for expert coverage.
Centered around Valdosta, GA, on the state’s Southern border, Black Crow’s posse of stations decided to simulcast its “Newstalk 105.9” WVGA across the dial, including country “99.5 Kix Country” WKAA, hot AC “95.7 The Mix” WQPW, urban contemporary “The Beat” WWRQ and “Rock 106.9” WVLD. “Initially our team was going to broadcast solely on WVGA, but under suggestion of our owner Paul Stone, we went to work setting up a simulcast across all seven of our group’s stations,” the group reported to GAB.
On Thursday morning, as news of the storm and its trajectory pointed toward Valdosta and the surrounding areas, “we put a volunteer team together that would broadcast live throughout the night with updated information” as a simulcast, which “would allow us to reach a huge audience across South Georgia and North Florida with our terrestrial signals and far beyond with our live online streaming.”
Meanwhile, Hemine was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane and it headed right toward the region. For the next 10 hours straight, the Black Crow team tracked the storm, “took live calls from listeners and city officials and discussed any relevant information,” the group told GAB, including info about local shelters, safety tips, power outages and rescheduled events.
In addition, local group Vidalia Communications combined resources at its AC “98Q” WTCQ Vidalia and “Sweet Onion Country” WYUM Mount Vernon as well as an AM translator and company website “Southeast Georgia Today,” which serves a 10-county area of Southeast Georgia.
“All of these resources were employed since we first started hearing about the storm heading our way Wednesday night,” the group reported to GAB. “Hourly storm updates of two minutes each were aired on all three stations starting Thursday [morning]. We coordinated with our Toombs County Emergency Management Agency, plus local governments/schools and power companies to keep our listeners informed.”
Storm updates included EMA projections on the scope and time period of the storm, school closings, government services, power outages and the all-important impact of the storm on local sporting events: “Yes, that’s important to our folks, especially Friday night football.”
At Black Crow, four stations lost power, leaving the company operating via generators from its headquarters. “Since the broadcast, we have been blown away by the response from our great listeners, as well as city officials and even other local media personalities,” the company said. “As challenging and exhausting as the night was, I feel confident that we did the right thing and that every one of us would volunteer to do it again.”