Broadcasters step up when disaster strikes


A particularly violent pattern of spring time weather has been hitting different portions of the United States at different times, and at all times, broadcasters have been at the forefront of efforts to warn citizens and minimize loss of life. And one veteran broadcaster has been tapped to share expertise with the US Senate.

Tornadic storm patterns have been the biggest cause of damage this spring, and they’ve been striking repeatedly in the Midwest, South and Southeast.

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith spoke for many when he praised the efforts of broadcasters all over for abandoning regular programming, staying on air and doing everything possible to keep citizens informed, warned and safe.

Smith said, “NAB salutes our radio and television station colleagues in the Midwest and South for breaking news coverage of devastating tornadoes that have caused so much human tragedy in recent days and weeks. In times of crisis, local broadcasters are a reliable first informer in providing emergency weather coverage that saves lives. Our thoughts are with those recovering from catastrophic tornadoes, and we applaud local TV and radio stations that are galvanizing relief efforts in grieving communities.”

Meanwhile, Senate Commerce Committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has announced a hearing that relates to times of disaster. Two bills will be under consideration: S. 646, the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2011, and S. 692, the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2011.

One of Rockefeller’s main goals is not broadcast-related – he is trying to create a national wireless network for first responders, a goal which traces back to 9/11/01 and Hurricane Katrina.

Nevertheless, one of the expert witnesses he has called in to testify at the 5/3/11 hearing is iconic Washington DC meteorologist Bob Ryan, who currently works for Allbritton at ABC WJLA-TV. His current post follows a lengthy tenure with NBC O&O WRC.