Broadcasters' Public Service
October 2011

Broadcasters Serve as Lifelines for Communities Hit by Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene swept up the east coast in late August, bringing strong winds and heavy rain to communities along the Atlantic Seaboard. Throughout the storm, broadcasters served as lifelines for their communities, pre-empting programming to deliver round-the-clock coverage of the severe weather. Many states, including Vermont and New Jersey, were impacted by record flooding in the storm's wake. Rushing water destroyed neighborhoods, in some instances washing out roads, businesses and homes in its path. Broadcasters witnessed the damage and responded to the call for help in numerous ways: providing viewers and listeners information about where they could obtain support and shelter, organizing radio and telethons and hosting clean-up projects in their communities. The National Association of Broadcasters created a short video about broadcasters' role as 'first informers' during Hurricane Irene, which can be viewed here.

According to a survey by Marshall Marketing, the primary source of information during hurricane Irene was local broadcast television. The study, which was commissioned by Hearst Television, showed that local television was the first source of information in many cities including Boston, Baltimore and the Burlington-Plattsburgh market. Among those respondents, a large percentage said that "while they were without power, they turned to the radio for information."

Below is a sample of stories NAB Public Service received that highlight stations' work in the aftermath of Irene.

While residents in Providence, R.I. waited for the electricity to be restored in their homes after Irene cut off power to many in the state, Media General's WJAR-TV Providence simulcast the audio portion of its newscast on Clear Channel's WHJJ-AM Providence. The arrangement allowed locals to receive the TV stations' round-the-clock coverage on battery-operated radio. According to WJAR-TV's General Manager, Craig Jahelka, "This was yet another instance of local broadcasters working together to serve the public interest, protect lives and deliver emergency information in a time of life-threatening conditions."

Further north in Vermont, Radio Vermont's WDEV-AM/FM Waterbury was a lifeline for listeners as historic flooding threatened thousands. With the station running solely on backup generators, WDEV Radio's News Director Eric Michaels gave his personal cell phone number to listeners, encouraging them to call or text in information about those who needed help. For more than 24 hours, Michaels and his team pre-empted regular programming to connect those in need with relief supplies and emergency information.

In Connecticut, Cox Media Group's stations WPLR-FM New Haven, WEZN-FM Bridgeport, WSTC-AM Stanford and WNLK-AM Norwalk simulcast a program called "IRENE Aftermath," in which station talent joined together to interview local officials about the storm, answer listeners' questions and provide important information in the hurricane's wake. Guests on the program included Senator Joe Lieberman, Governer Malloy, several Connecticut mayors and state representatives, among others.

Following the storm, eight Double O radio stations in Upstate New York simulcast a radiothon to raise money for the victims through the United Way of Delaware and Otsego County Disaster Relief fund. Double O listeners pledged $36,000 in donations, a huge success which George Wells, Double O's regional manager says he has never seen before in his 30 years working in radio. Money raised during the radiothons is being used for food, shelter, prescription medications and back-to-school supplies by those impacted.

In North Carolina, Gray Television's WITN-TV Greenville hosted a fundraiser in partnership with Inner Banks Media and the Red Cross to raise money for hurricane victims in the Greenville-New Bern-Washington region. With its partners, along with a generous donation from Wachovia/Wells Fargo, WITN-TV raised over $320,000 for North Carolina families.

WGNA-FM Albany Morning Team quickly raised $30,000 for Irene victims. Townsquare Media's WGNA-FM Albany morning hosts Sean McMaster and Richie Phillips held a 24 hour radiothon at a local mall in addition to collecting donations online. Despite a lack of corporate matching dollars, they raised more than $30,000, tripling the original goal, with contributions ranging in size from $1 to $2,500. WGNA-FM donated the money to the Red Cross of Northeastern New York to aid their effort in providing relief to victims of Hurricane Irene.

Broadcasters Help Commemorate 10th Anniversary of September 11

With the 10th anniversary of September 11 this year, broadcasters recognized the event with a variety of tributes, charitable events and fundraisers. Below are just a few of these remembrances.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) joined nonprofit organizations MyGoodDeed and the HandsOn Network, Clear Channel Radio and a host of other media organizations to promote the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, striving to create the single largest day of charitable service in U.S. history. NAB helped to distribute the campaign's public service announcements (PSAs) to its member broadcasters, while Clear Channel and other stations donated an estimated $15 million worth of free airtime for the spots. The PSAs encouraged viewers and listeners to spend the September 11th anniversary volunteering, reflecting and giving back to their communities.

Hoosiers Show Their Big Hearts with Donations to September 11 Memorial

Dispatch Broadcasting's WTHR-TV Indianapolis, Ind. held a 13-hour donation drive to raise money for Indianapolis' new September 11 Memorial. The memorial, which features two 22-foot steel beams from the World Trade Center site, was ready for its debut; however, the project's organizers did not have enough money to pay the construction costs and maintenance fees. On the Friday before the unveiling, they were at least $30,000 short.

In response, WTHR-TV held a donation drive in the station's parking lot from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, September 9. WTHR-TV's anchors shot live cut-ins from the lot at the top of each hour, as station staff from every department took shifts collecting donations throughout the day. When the drive concluded, WTHR-TV had raised nearly $39,000 in 13 hours, filling the gap in needed funding for the memorial.

Greater Media Remembers "Those That Bravely Walk Into Harm's Way"

Greater Media stations recognized the anniversary of September 11 with on-air remembrances of the victims and a salute to law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and "the brave Americans who made a difference when it mattered and continue to make a difference on a daily basis." In an Op-Ed in Radio Ink Magazine, Greater Media Chairman and CEO Peter Smyth noted, "We know that everyday men and women from every state in our country bear the scars and wounds of 9/11, some visible, many hidden from view. The least we can do is remember, honor them and continue to support those that bravely walk into harm's way on a daily basis." The group's websites also included links to local 9/11 tributes and regional charities.

In addition to hosting national remembrances and responding to regional natural disasters, broadcasters have been hard at work in their local communities answering the needs of their neighbors.

Emmis Stations Raised Over $25K for Fire Victims

Following the central Texas wildfires, Emmis Austin Radio raised over $25,000 for the Red Cross of Central Texas and collected three truckloads of much-needed supplies for the Catholic Diocese Charities of Central Texas. These donations added to a large delivery truck full of supplies collected earlier in the week from listeners of the Dudley and Bob Show on Emmis' KLBJ-FM 93.7 to benefit the first responders and fire victims. Participating stations included: KLBJ-FM, KLBJ-AM, KGSR-FM, KBPA-FM and KGSR-FM.

News Radio KLBJ-FM also provided live continuous media coverage of the wildfires that tore through central Texas. KLBJ's listeners called in throughout the night with firsthand accounts, which provided local residents with invaluable information regarding the fire's path, damage, and relief efforts.

KPYN-AM Helps Victims of Texas Wild Fires

Freed AM Corp.'s KPYN-AM Atlanta, Texas hosted a five-hour radiothon in September to raise money for victims of the Bear Creek, Texas fire that destroyed over 40,000 acres and 100 area homes. Donations were given to the Community Services of Northeast Texas and distributed to families through the American Red Cross.

Three Dozen North Dakota Stations Raised $2 Million for Families Affected by Flooding

Across North Dakota, over thirty radio and television stations recently partnered to host the "Bring Back the Magic" radio and telethon. The statewide fundraiser benefitted flood victims in Minot who lost their homes and possessions when the Souris River overflowed its banks. Together the broadcast stations raised nearly $2 million in donations from listeners and viewers, local, small businesses and corporations.

In another event, KFGO-AM Fargo, owned by Jim Ingstad, and Clear Channel affiliates KFYR-AM Bismarck and KCJB-AM Minot, auctioned off 10 tickets to the Black Eyed Peas concert at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds. The auction raised more than $6,300 for the Minot Area Recovery Fund to benefit the 11,000 flood victims.

Beasley's WXKB-FM Collects School Supplies for Fort Myers' Kids

Beasley-owned WXKB-FM Cape Coral, Fla. recently delivered two pallets of school supplies to the Collier County School district to kick off the new academic year. The station's "Big Mama and The Wild Bunch" staff partnered with Pepsi to collect an assortment of supplies including pencils, pens, markers, crayons and notebooks for area students in need. Together WXKB-FM and Pepsi constructed a house made out of soda cans in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart. The radio crew broadcasted live from inside the house for four-and-a-half days. In total, the "Big Mama and The Wild Bunch" team collected more than $10,000 worth of school supplies. The station also adopted 43 students from the Abuse Council Treatment Center. Each of the 43 kids received a new outfit for their first day of school and supplies for the academic year.

Broadcasters Foundation Golf Tournament Raised Over $150,000

The 2011 Broadcasters Foundation of America's Celebrity Golf Tournament, held in Tarrytown, N.Y., raised more than $150,000 for broadcasters in need of assistance. The Foundation expects to grant $600,000 in aid this year, a 20 percent increase over 2010. Evercore Wealth Management sponsored the tournament. Greater Media Chief Executive Officer Peter Smyth and Katz Television Group President Jim Beloyianis served as co-chairs. More than 140 broadcasters, celebrities and athletes participated.

WOGL-FM Airs 10th Annual Loves Our Kids Radiothon

CBS Radio's WOGL-FM Philadelphia's 10th annual "Loves Our Kids Radiothon" recently raised over $450,000 for the Children's Miracle Network (CMN), bringing the 10-year total to $4.7 million. Money raised during the two-day event support patient care programs at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

This year's radiothon broadcasted live from Ryan Seacrest's "The Voice" studios located in the Colket Atrium of Children's Hospital. Special activities for kids included tie dying socks, crafts to decorate their hospital rooms and making crowns with local Miss America title holders. WOGL-FM's Breakfast Club host Ross Brittain and co-host Valerie Knight anchored the radiothon, with special appearances from the entire WOGL air-staff and CBS 3's Nicole Brewer. Other guest appearances included Bob Kelly, Pat Ciarrocchi, Jim Donovan, Stephanie Stahl and Natasha Brown.

102.9 WMGK Hosts the Rock and Roll Up Your Sleeve Blood Drive

Greater Philadelphia Radio's WMGK-FM and the American Red Cross hosted the Inaugural 102.9 MGK Rock and Roll Up Your Sleeve Blood Drive at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. The station hoped their classic rock listeners would contribute 300 units of blood to help the Red Cross maintain a stable blood supply. All donors received the opportunity to watch the Flyers practice before and after donating blood, the chance to meet Flyers Hall of Famers, a coupon for free skate rental at Flyers Skate Zone and a WMGK Blood Drive t-shirt.

Entercom Launches Campaign to Support Navy SEAL Families

Entercom Communications Corporation launched a company-wide campaign to assist families who lost loved ones to combat in Afghanistan. The campaign spanned 23 markets and 111 stations. Entercom Norfolk alone raised nearly $50,000 in donated goods and services for the Navy SEAL Foundation.

On August 6, thirty American service members died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Most of the victims were elite Navy SEALs, including several members of SEAL Team Six, the elite unit that killed Osama bin Laden. It was the largest single loss of U.S. life since the beginning of the 2001 Afghan War and is the largest single loss ever suffered by the SEAL community.

The Navy SEAL Foundation provides support in times of adversity and recognizes the achievements of U.S. Navy SEALs.

News Gets Personal for KXAS Reporter

NBC affiliate KXAS-TV Dallas anchor and reporter Kristi Nelson recently shared a touching, personal story of donating a kidney to her mother during a multi-part series titled "Kristi's Gift." "I'm doing this because she's my mother and I love her and I think she has a wonderful spirit," said Nelson. "I also think it's an especially important message to send to minority communities, including African Americans and Hispanics. The message is that we need to take care of ourselves and that if we do have contributing factors to kidney disease we can control them."

The series examined kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation from the emotional perspective of a daughter who witnessed her mother taking dialysis three times per week. In addition to the on-air series, Kristi's Gift has its own page on the NBC 5 website with kidney disease resources and the stories of others who are awaiting transplants. Kristi's Gift aired on KXAS newscasts in three parts and was produced by NBC 5's Emmy Award winning team.

WEEI-AM's Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon Featuring Ex-Sox Mo Vaughn, John Valentin Raised $3.3 Million

Entercom Sports' WEEI-AM, Boston partnered with a regional cable sports channel on the 10th annual Jimmy Fund radio telethon to raise $3.3 million for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The 36-hour broadcast included interviews with Red Sox legends Mo Vaughn and John Valentin before the pair threw out the first pitches of the Red Sox - Yankees game on August 31. The money raised at Fenway Park funds patient care and cancer research.

As two of the Jimmy Fund's biggest supporters, Vaughn and Valentin's appearance made a strong impression on the pediatric patients and their families. Emotional patient stories and interviews with doctors and researchers were intertwined with appearances from prominent Boston sports figures, including several members of the Red Sox. Featured personalities included Glee's Mike O'Malley, Boston Bruins Charlie Jacobs, Celtics' Stephen Pagliuca, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Red Sox players included Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez.

"Miles For Smiles" Telethon Raises Over 1.7 Million Frequent Flier Miles to Help Children

Fisher Communications' KVAL-TV in Eugene, Ore., recently held its third annual "Miles For Smiles" telethon, to benefit The Make-A-Wish® Foundation of Oregon. Viewers were invited to call with their donations via live broadcasts or donate through the KVAL website before and after the telethon. Seventy-five percent of Oregon wishes are travel-related. KVAL and partner businesses teamed up with The Make-A-Wish® Foundation of Oregon to help bring hope, strength and joy into the lives of children and their families during a time when the families need it most. Thanks to generous viewers, the event raised over 1.7 million frequent flier miles.

KATC-FM Concert Raises $20K at Concert for the Rocky Mountain Childhood Cancer Foundation

Citadel Broadcasting's KATC-FM 95.1 (Cat Country) Colorado Springs, Colo. raised more than $20,000 during its third annual Cat Country Cares For Kids benefit concert. Country music favorites Phil Vassar, Craig Morgan, Steve Holy, Brett Eldredge, Jason Jones and Hunter Hayes performed a sold-out show. The station held a live auction of artist memorabilia and donated the proceeds to the Rocky Mountain Childhood Cancer Foundation. As one parent (or the single parent) often needs to stop working to care for the sick child, the foundation helps affected families pay their monthly bills such as mortgages, electricity and car payments. This is a huge relief for families to make ends meet.

Cape Cod Broadcast Helps Troops

Cape Cod Broadcasting's WKPE-FM Cape Country 103.9in South Yarmouth, Mass. partnered with the Cape Cod Melody Tent to organize a military food drive for the Ma Otis Food Pantry. Cape Cod Broadcasting ran a two week on-air campaign before collecting non-perishable food items at a Trace Adkins Concert. Ma Otis, an emergency food pantry located on Cape Cod, Mass., is run by military spouses and active duty members that want to help fellow military and their families.

"We were thrilled with the response of our listeners and of the concert-goers that brought items the night of the concert," said promotions director Kim Lucas. "The highlight of the night for all of us was seeing some of the active military that were at the event to help with the food drive get to meet and pose for photos with Trace Adkins. A great event with an overwhelming community response, we were thrilled to make a significant contribution and bring much needed exposure to this deserving organization serving our communities military and families."

Infinity's WXRK-FM and Local Salon Team Up for Breast Cancer Awareness

Infinity Broadcasting's WXRK-FM New York, 92.3 NOW, teamed up with Riccardo Maggiore Salon to raise money and awareness for breast cancer during the 11-day San Gennaro Feast in Manhattan's Little Italy. At the 92.3 NOW booth, salon artists applied pink feather hair extensions for a $5 donation. Proceeds went to the Libby Ross Foundation, which offers unique support and wellness programs for women affected by breast cancer.

"Green, White, Red and Pink are a great color combination," said 92.3 NOW morning show host Nick Cannon. "It's an honor to team with the Libby Ross Foundation, a charity that is making a huge difference in the fight against breast cancer."

Clear Channel Fresno Collects Bras for Cancer Charity

Clear Channel's Fresno, Calif. soft rock station KSOF-FM and country station KHGE-FM collected celebrity autographed bras for an auction held on October 21. The station has already collected autographed bras from Maroon 5, Bret Michaels, and Michael Buble and more. The auction will benefit the Susan G Komen Foundation, an organization which supports education and research related to breast cancer.

WBTU-FM Organizes Scholarship Fund

Oasis Radio 1 Group's WBTU-FM in Fort Wayne, Ind. set up a scholarship fund in honor of Alina Bigjohnny. Bigjohnny and six others lost their lives on August 13 when a stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed moments before the Sugarland concert. The "Lights for Alina" scholarship fund will be awarded to a student from Bigjohnny's alma mater whose career focus is education. Alina was a graduate of Wayne High School and soon-to-be teacher at Muncie Community Schools. WBTU-FM also helped organize a memorial event in the week after the tragedy. A video of the remembrance is available online.

10 Years of Support: WSBT Radio and Coaches vs. Cancer

For the past ten years, Shurz Communications' WSBT-AM Radio South Bend, Ind. has supported University of Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey's Coaches Versus Cancer campaign. Coaches Versus Cancer is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The initiative leverages the personal experiences, community leadership and professional excellence of basketball coaches nationwide to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living through year-round awareness efforts, fundraising activities and advocacy programs.

WSBT-AM held Coach Brey's annual two-day radiothon. WSBT-AM personalities provided live remote broadcasts at partner locations throughout the community to raise funds through onsite donations, donations via text and the sale of t-shirts.

A new event, the Coaches Versus Cancer Night of Lights, also debuted this year. This event featured live music, ice cream and an honor ceremony. Luminaries were lit along a walkway decorated in honor of victims of cancer.

WSBT-AM yielded the largest totals in the event's history, raising nearly $3,000 for the American Cancer Society and Coaches Versus Cancer.

92.3 NOW's Nick Cannon Delivers Nearly 2,000 Toys to New York Children

Nick Cannon, host of the "Rollin' with Nick Cannon Morning Show" on Infinity Broadcasting Group's WXRK-FM New York, 92.3 NOW, and NBC's "America's Got Talent," brought truckloads of toys to the New York Hospital Queens Mets Care Room. Cannon collected the toys during his attempt to secure the Guinness World Record for the most hugs in one hour. Standing outside Citi Field, Cannon embraced 1,679 fans and missed the record by only 52 hugs. Paper Jamz from WowWee donated one toy for each hug Cannon secured.

"Regardless of the failed attempt, I am thrilled to do my part to put smiles on the faces of children who need it most," said Cannon. "Thanks to everyone for coming out and to Paper Jamz for donating thousands of dollars in toys. This was a great event and I look forward to making another world record try in the future."

Emmis Communications Paints Two Rooms at Indianapolis Public School

The corporate team at Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications took time off from their usual work schedule to paint two rooms at Indianapolis Public School 56. The rooms had been in desperate need of attention before receiving the much-deserved makeovers. Participants in the paint project included Emmis Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smulyan and Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer Patrick Walsh. The event was part of the United Way's 20th Annual Day of Caring. The Day of Caring is the United Way of Central Indiana's signature annual initiative that provides members of the Hoosier state concrete activities to give back to their community.

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Click here to learn more about broadcasters' community service initiatives and nonprofit partnerships.

Send Us Your Stories
If your station has a great public service campaign that should be recognized, email Allison Kreutzjans, manager, Public Service Initiatives or call (202) 429-5448 with details. Follow NAB Public Service Initiatives on Twitter: @BroadlyServing.