“Finally, Ill put part of the blame on local radio stations, which should be a lifeline during a weather emergency. But due to budget cuts, theyve deferred live coverage to local TV stations, cable outlets and the web. But when the power goes out, many of those other sources are unavailable, and when they tune to the local radio station, they hear (in most cases) an automated jukebox. The announcers, with the possible exception of the morning crew, are voice-tracked from a personality or format service hundreds of miles away.”
When I lived in Mississippi, I remember walking out of a Wal-Mart on a stormy Sunday night, just as the tornado sirens went off. I jumped in my car and turned on the most popular local station; the announcer assured us that it would be a beautiful day, with a high near 85. Not only was the forecast hours out date, the station apparently did not air weather bulletins through the emergency alert system (EAS). “
So many stories lumped into these two paragraphs.
“Local” radio stations - very different now than years ago. As I read this earlier today, I was recalling the time in the early 70s when I worked at WJLJ in Tupelo, MS. We were a very small, new, daytime AM radio station - we had no news staff at all, let alone a weather staff. But the one thing that was drilled into my head almost from the moment I arrived there - Tupelo had nearly been flattened by a tornado many years previous, and the populace was still constantly on edge. So we had a separate weather wire installed alongside our regular newswire, and it did the trick. We monitored it faithfully, and our listeners were always informed. All the affiliations with TV stations, and graphics, and whatever else today are meaningless, if they don’t get the information to frightened listeners when they need it. Bottom line, we didn’t need the stuff they use today, had no staff, and far and away kept our audience best informed about the frightening weather in Tupelo. And there was always some of that.
So, very shocking to come home tonight and see all this horrible information about a tornado in Tupelo. Just darn. Talking about destruction of a mall - I left there in 1974, and I suspect this is one built after I left. Sounds awful, I had hoped they wouldn’t have to go through that again. Never thought it would be today.
The second part of your comment - about the state of radio today. I had the exact same experience (and this exact time of year, too) with a favorite radio station in New Orleans. I was in town for JazzFest, we had heard the weather was threatening, and I turned on the radio hoping for some accurate info. I had it on a station I had listened to before, not knowing it had changed into one of those voice tracked from afar stations. I kept waiting and waiting for any updates on the weather or conditions at the Fairgrounds - never mentioned!!! I finally realized what was going on. Just imagine having so many people captive wanting to know what was going on, and as you said, “beautiful day with a high near 85.” Really, what purpose does radio serve anymore - it was once a lifeline, now just a joke.
That’s why having a smart phone is a good idea.