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The Power of Radio in a Crisis

The outreach by local radio to help the victims of Katrina is amazing; (yet again) proof of the value and power of radio. With all the constant chatter bemoaning all of radio’s ills, sometimes it takes a genuine tragedy to illustrate the true and wonderful influence of the medium. Countless radio stations from coast to coast have mobilized their staffs and listeners with meaningful content: in this case an outpouring of caring, support and help for the people in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Millions of dollars will be raised because real people, millions of people, are listening to the radio and responding with their help. It’s quite encouraging to hear about rival radio companies sharing studio space in neighboring cities in order to keep as many local stations on the air as possible. There’s nothing like competition to bring out the best in people (and hopefully a victory), but in times of catastrophe the greatest victory is working together for the common good. We as an industry could use a little more of this kind of cooperation every day. The granddaddy of electronic communication—radio still has the fortitude to inform and comfort listeners in an instant. And for many people living through this nightmare their battery powered radio is now their only connection to the outside world. In New Orleans, the newspaper isn’t printing and only updating the news on-line, but of course without power how many local people are able to see it. Radio is the darn near close to the ultimate wireless device…it has the ability to be as good as the content we can dream up in our creative minds.
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