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Broadcasters' Public Service
November 2015

Radio and television broadcasters constantly perfom public service. Stations disseminate lifeline information about weather emergencies; support our troops; raise millions of dollars for cancer research and treatment; collect tons of food, clothes and toys; devote free air time to election coverage; promote education and health; and help nonprofits communicate critical messages.

Send details on your station's public service to Suzie Raven

Radio and Television Stations Provide Lifeline Emergency Information
Broadcasters Serve as Lifeline During South Carolina Historic Flood

On Oct. 7, a "thousand-year rain" event dumped 11 trillion gallons of water on South Carolina. The 26 inches of rain submerged entire towns and killed at least 17 people. Radio and television stations provided lifeline safety information on how to access water, power and shelter and updates on road closures and conditions. These stations include Alpha Media's WWDM-FM, WARQ-FM, WMFX-FM and WHXT-FM Columbia; Cumulus Media's WLXC-FM; Summit Media's WJMZ-HD2 Greenville; Raycom Media's CBS affiliate WCSC-TV Charleston and NBC affiliate WIS Columbia; Sinclair's MyNetworkTV affiliate WCIV-TV Charleston; and Tegna's CBS affiliate WLTX-TV Columbia.

WLTX-TV aired more than 101 hours of storm, rescue and relief coverage. WLTX hosted a phone bank for the Salvation Army Disaster Relief fund and another for residents to access safety information such as road closures. "People in the Hispanic community didn't understand the boil water advisory and their children were getting sick because they drank the water. We were able to get the word out—in Spanish," said WLTX President and General Manager Rich O'Dell.

Stations Organize Epic S.C. Relief Efforts

Radio and television stations organized tremendous disaster relief initiatives in the wake of the flood. Hearst Television's NBC affiliate WYFF-TV Greenville, S.C., raised more than $700,000 for the American Red Cross during a telethon on Oct. 7.

Greater Media's WBT-AM/FM and WLNK-FM Charlotte, N.C., delivered 200,000 bottles of water on Oct. 8 (watch video).

Beasley Broadcasting held several drives. The company's Augusta, Ga., stations collected 700,000 bottles of water and WNKS-FM Charlotte, N.C., brought in an additional 250,000.

Alpha Media radio stations and Raycom Media's NBC affiliate WIS-TV Columbia, S.C. hosted a radiothon that raised $736,000. (watch video).

Syndicated radio host Bobby Bones and his band, The Raging Idiots, raised $82,000 at a benefit concert presented by iHeartMedia's WEZL-FM Charleston. Access photos and audio here.

WLTX Columbia raised $141,000 in a telethon, which Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-2) acknowledged on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. His remarks are in the Congressional Record for Oct. 20, 2015.

Viewers, Red Cross Thank Broadcasters

WIS Columbia shared this letter from a viewer: "I would like to commend the entire WIS news team for the outstanding job they have done bringing the viewers of this state very crucial information during this historic natural disaster. We all are aware that many of the WIS news team went many hours and some of them days without sleep. They all continued to provide updated information in the very most professional manner. Your team's unwavering dedication to getting the news out expeditiously undoubtedly saved lives and property. Your team's dedication to this state is nothing short of heroic."

WYFF Greenville received this letter from Ann Wright, Executive Director of the Upstate SC Red Cross. It reads, in part: "There really aren't enough words to express our sincere appreciation for the telethon you and your team conducted on October 7, 2015 to help with the floods... Thanks to you and the team at WYFF, we raised $830,519!

The power of your television reach and the mission of the Red Cross to provide immediate, emergency relief resulted in the most successful telethon in our area in recent years. In fact, we have now worked with you and WYFF since Hurricane Hugo, 25 years ago to hold eight telethons and raise $3,325,073. That is truly amazing.

Your willingness to do these telethons means that thousands of people received a hot meal, something to drink, a clean-up kit or a comfort kit filled with hygiene items and toys for children."

Radio Offers Solace During Oklahoma State University Tragedy

On Oct. 24, a drunk driver drove into a crowd at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, killing four people and injuring 47 others. Team Radio's "Triple Play Sports" stations, including KOSB-FM, pre-empted live game day programing to provide complete coverage. Anchor Jordan Woodruff was live on-air about 45 minutes after the car struck the crowd, interviewing witnesses and gathering news. Woodruff's co-hosts, Steve Daniels and Tom Dirato, provided comfort to listeners and aired the live broadcast of the Stillwater Police Department press conference. During the game, Team Radio focused on the tragedy, updating listeners on the number of injuries and probable cause. "I was very proud of these four guys who instinctively knew what to do upon hearing the news of the tragedy," said Team Radio Owner Bill Coleman. "They became great informers instead of sports broadcasters."

Radio Helps Police Following Child's Death

Cumulus Media's KKOB-AM and KOB-FM Albuquerque provided support to a grieving city after a four-year-old girl was shot and killed in a road rage incident on Oct. 20. Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden called KKOB as Morning Show Host Bob Clark discussed the story with listeners. Police Chief Eden said, "We know that 770 [KKOB-AM] is heard around the Southwest and we need your help in tracking down truckers who may have witnessed the road rage shooting." Listen to this audio clip from his call, which shows KKOB's importance in the community.

The next morning, KOB-FM hosts Carlos & Kiki dedicated their show to listener calls, which covered news tips on the shooter and reasons "why we need to hug our kids." KOB asked listeners to donate to a GoFundMe account for the girl's family. The account raised $40,000 by noon, ultimately reaching $66,000. This horrific event demonstrates "the power of local radio to bring communities together during difficult times and to help keep our communities safe," said a Cumulus Media spokesperson. Watch news segments featuring Carlos & Kiki here and here (starts at 5:14).

KOBI Provides Solace After School Shooting

California Oregon Broadcasting's NBC affiliate KOBI-TV Medford, Ore., provided lifeline information after a tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1 left nine dead and nine injured. KOBI's wall-to-wall coverage provided critical updates and solace to the community. In the weeks that followed, KOBI covered vigils, services and memorials, and provided information on how to support the victims' families. Bob Wise, KOBI vice president and general manager, shared this information:

"Some days we are covering the best day of someone's life, the next might be someone's worst tragedy. Unfortunately, on October 1, the worst came to life in front of us... KOBI TV staff has worked hard to provide information to its viewers in a way to honor the victims, respect their family and friends, and to address the overriding issues that led to this happening in our backyard. It reminds us all, once again, the importance of local broadcasting and how, when needed, broadcasters are at the epicenter of teamwork, communication and effort to inform viewers, through good times and difficult times."

Sinclair Broadcast Promotes Fire Prevention

Sinclair Broadcast Group promoted the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign as part of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9 – 15. Through the campaign, the Red Cross has installed more than 125,000 smoke alarms in nearly 2,400 communities.

"Local broadcasting is one of the most important ways we share life-saving information with the communities we serve. Our campaigns are local, our volunteers are local, our supporting partners are local, and broadcast TV just connects all those dots," said Red Cross Executive Director of Community Preparedness Russ Paulsen. "Being able to speak to over 43 million homes at once through Sinclair's media network allows us to scale our effort to educate families about preventing home fires and keeping loved ones safe."

Broadcasters Provide Superior Investigative Reporting

WTSP Tampa Investigates Political Influence

Tegna's CBS affiliate WTSP St. Petersburg, Fla., aired "The Gatekeeper," a newscast and 6,000-word online story with links to public records and online-only videos based on reporter Noah Pransky's year-long investigation into private public relations consultant Beth Leytham. Pransky found evidence that Leytham may be skirting lobbying registration laws. Her clients include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan. After the story broke, a city council member called for a review of Tampa's lobbying rules. The county administrator asked the sheriff to review the award of a $1.35 million contract to one of Leytham's clients, who used her as a subcontractor.

Telemundo Invests in Local Initiatives

The Miami Herald recently highlighted Telemundo Station Group's local initiatives, including the addition of nine "Telemundo Responde" investigative units. The unit has recovered more than $3.5 million for consumers by investigating local businesses such as auto mechanics and tax agencies. The annual telethon for the Miami-based Liga Contra el Cáncer (League Against Cancer) generates most of the organization's yearly budget. "We want to be the station that breaks news and covers weather for our audience," said Telemundo Station Group President Manuel Martinez. "We have a specific relationship with our audience, because if you're not 100 percent fluent in English, you come to us every day for your entertainment and information."

Sinclair Connects Local Communities to Congress

Sinclair Broadcast Group recently launched "Connect to Congress," a multimedia initiative that creates a regular dialogue between constituents and members of Congress. Sinclair established a Capitol Hill bureau so local anchors can conduct interviews about issues constituents and lawmakers are passionate about. Nielsen data shows that these local newscasts often draw audiences that are four times that of the top cable news channels for comparable time periods. "Everyone has a right to know what their elected officials are doing in Washington," said Scott Livingston, Sinclair's vice president of news. "Connect to Congress is just one example of the investments we are making in our D.C. news operations."

Meteorologist Receives National Honor

Meredith Corp.'s NBC affiliate WSMV Nashville Chief Meteorologist Lisa Spencer received the National Weather Association's 2015 NWA Broadcaster of the Year Award, which recognizes broadcasters who contribute significantly to the dissemination of critical weather information. Spencer and WSMV's weather team regularly travel across Tennessee promoting severe weather preparedness via their "4WARN Weather Alert Tour." Spencer has helped raise thousands of dollars through tornado and flood relief telethons. She also leads "Warm Coats from Warm Hearts," which collects thousands of coats each year, and "Heat Wave Help" to collect air conditioners. (Watch video).

KNTV Exposes Dangerous Food Storage

NBC owned KNTV-TV San Francisco was honored with a national Emmy Award in the outstanding regional news story category for its investigative series "Inside Sysco: Exposing North America's Food Sheds." Sysco is the world's largest food distributor, with annual sales of $48 billion and customers that include schools, hospitals and restaurants all over the world. After KNTV's investigation exposed Sysco for storing food in unrefrigerated storage sheds, the company was forced to settle a consumer protection lawsuit in California for almost $20 million. (Watch video via TVNewsCheck).

WJXT Uncovers Unsafe Living Conditions

Graham Media owned WJXT Jacksonville exposed unsafe conditions at the Eureka Gardens Apartments, including crumbling staircases, mold and gas leasks. WJXT brought attention to residents' frustration, which they voiced when the complex passed a Department of Housing and Urban Development inspection. Eureka Gardens' owner subsequently announced plans for major changes.

KCRA Investigates Veterans Hospital

Hearst-owned NBC affiliate KCRA-TV Sacramento investigated the slow response time of Mather VA Hospital. Surveillance video shows a local veteran on the ground in pain outside of the emergency room. No one from the hospital came to help, even as his wife pounds on the door. Following the news segment, the hospital fixed the emergency call button and camera feed. (Watch video).

Broadcasters Air Political Debates, Critical Local News

Broadcasters Across the Country Host and Air Debates, Critical Election Coverage

Tegna's NBC affiliate KUSA-TV Denver has gained recognition for quality content and high-profile interviews on its political show "Balance of Power." An interview with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton aired Oct. 18. Long-form news shows such as this "make a difference in the policy debate and in elections," said the Huffington Post's Jason Salzman.

Hearst's NBC affiliate WDSU-TV New Orleans hosted and aired an Oct. 1 debate featuring six candidates for Louisiana Governor (watch video).

An Oct. 6 debate between Kentucky gubernatorial candidates Jack Conway and Matt Bevin aired on Cordillera Communication's NBC affiliate WLEX-TV Lexington, Ky.; Gray's WSAZ-TV Huntington, W.V.; iHeartMedia's WHAS-AM Louisville; Raycom Media's NBC affiliate WAVE-TV Louisville; Fox affiliate WXIX-TV Newport, Ky.; and NBC affiliate WFIE-TV Owensboro, Ky. (watch video).

Tegna's NBC affiliate WCSH-TV Portland, Maine, broadcast live a debate between incumbent Mayor Michael Brennan and challenger Ethan Strimling on Oct. 13 (watch video).

KTBS Inc.'s ABC affiliate KTBS Shreveport, La., broadcast live and streamed a debate on Oct. 15 featuring the top four candidates for Louisiana governor (watch video).

Media General's CBS affiliate WISH-TV Indianapolis hosted and broadcast live the city's only mayoral debate, held Oct. 16 (watch video).

Tegna's CBS affiliate KHOU-TV Houston sponsored and aired an hour-long debate on Oct. 17 with seven of the 13 candidates for mayor (watch video).

ABC owned WPVI-TV Philadelphia aired an Oct. 25 debate with five mayoral candidates (election coverage).

Tegna's NBC affiliate KUSA-TV Denver used its Video Call Center system for a post-GOP debate show on Oct. 28. The system allows viewers to be seen on-air as they interact with hosts. KUSA also used the platform when covering the 2015 NFL preseason.

CBS News is partnering with Twitter on an enhanced viewer experience for the Nov. 14 Democratic debate. Twitter will provide CBS News with live reactions and voter questions, some of which may be used in the debate.

Local Stations Launch Additional Newscasts

Broadcasters that recently increased local news coverage, or announced plans to do so, include:

Local Stations Win Prominent Awards
KNXV Wins 19 Regional Emmys

E.W. Scripps' ABC affiliate KNXV Phoenix won 19 regional Emmy Awards for local news. "I'm incredibly proud of our entire ABC15 team," Vice President and General Manager Anita Helt said. "They come to work every day ready to take action on behalf of Arizonans." Honors include:

  • Newscast Morning: "Monsoon Madness: The Day the Valley Flooded"
  • Newscast Day/Evening: "Phoenix Treading Water - The Flood of the Century"
  • Breaking News: "Monsoonal Mayhem – Phoenix Underwater"
  • Military: "Veterans Hung Up On, Can't Get Through to VA Hotline"
  • Journalistic Enterprise: "Dave Biscobing Investigates"
RTDNA Presents National Murrow Awards

RTDNA presented the 2015 National Edward R. Murrow Awards on Oct. 12. The 104 National Murrow Awards in 13 categories included Hard News and Feature Reporting. RTDNA received more than 4,200 entries, setting a record for the third year in a row. Overall Excellence winners are:

  • ABC News, New York (Network Television)
  • ABC News Radio, New York (Network Radio)
  • Tegna's NBC affiliate KING-TV Seattle (Large Market Television)
  • Hearst's ABC affiliate KETV-TV Omaha, Neb. (Small Market Television)
  • CBS Radio's WCBS-FM New York (Large Market Radio)
  • New Hampshire Public Radio, Concord, N.H. (Small Market Radio)
KFOR Oklahoma City Receives National Emmy for Tornado Coverage

Tribune's NBC affiliate KFOR-TV Oklahoma City was honored with a national Emmy Award for its coverage of the devastating tornado that hit Moore, OK on May 20, 2013. (Watch video via TVNewsCheck).

August 2015 Licensed to Serve