Broadcasters' Public Service
Licensed to Serve – Oklahoma Tornado Relief
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NAB's Licensed to Serve newsletter provides a sample of noteworthy stories that illustrate the many public service activities broadcasters organize on any given day across the country. From arranging record-breaking toy and food drives to providing free air time for political campaign coverage, broadcasters' continual commitment to their communities is showcased in Licensed to Serve.

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Local broadcasters saved countless lives with continuous coverage and safety information as tornadoes ravaged Oklahoma. Oklahoma Broadcasters Association President Vance Harrison told Inside Radio that he is "proud to be a broadcaster," as "the experience of the weather forecasters saved countless lives in what will be the single largest tornado in our history." Griffin Communication's KWTV captured images of the damage via helicopter 15 minutes after the tornado passed, beating rescuers to some areas and spurring the disaster to the top of the national news. "The live pictures and information, almost universally praised by viewers from afar who saw it online and on cable news channels, reminded some of the enduring value of local broadcasters at a time when apps and social networks tend to get more attention," Brian Stelter wrote in the New York Times. Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin thanked broadcasters in her post-storm press conference, saying, "the media has done a superb job over the last couple of days of keeping people informed about the current weather conditions, especially our weathermen and those that have been on the ground driving and calling and tracking the storm itself." Broadcasting & Cable's John Eggerton wrote that she "essentially echoed a point that is made periodically whenever informing the public becomes not just a matter of FCC public interest obligations, but one of life and death."
Oklahoma Broadcasters Support Their Neighbors
Ponca City Radio Stations Raise $27,000 for Fellow Oklahomans
Radio stations in Ponca City, Okla., including Team Radio's KPNC-FM and KLOR-FM, raised $27,000 for the American Red Cross. Station owner Bill Coleman said a local girls dance group "emptied their checking account" to bring $1,100 to the stations' donation "drive through," which received a total $11,000 in 11 hours. KPNC-FM and KLOR-FM promoted the generosity at Roosevelt Elementary, where students unanimously voted to spend their field trip and its $1,400 budget to purchase relief supplies. Coleman noted the town of 25,000 sent at least $27,000 and four truckloads of goods to Moore.
Stillwater Radio Collects $24,000 for Oklahoma Neighbors
In advance of Memorial Day, Stillwater Radio, which owns four-stations in Stillwater, Okla., hosted a radiothon that raised $24,000 in donations for tornado victims, including a $10,000 check from the radio group. All donations went to the local American Red Cross. Mary Ann White, the executive director of the American Red Corss noted, "no disaster ever will exceed the caring spirit of Oklahomans! From all of us at your American Red Cross, thank you for hosting the only Stillwater Radiothon for your local Red Cross Chapter."
Broadcast Groups and Networks Contirbute to Relief Efforts
Cumulus Raises Nearly $4 Million with Group-Wide Fundraising Campaign
Cumulus radio's 525 stations have donated at least $3.7 million for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. The Cumulus fundraising efforts included a one-hour fundraising special on all 84 Cumulus country stations and support for the Healing in the Heartland benefit concert to aid victims through The United Way of Central Oklahoma.
Cox Enterprises Donates $1 Million to Tornado Victims
Cox Enterprises donated $1 million to relief efforts in Oklahoma, including a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross and $500,000 of public service announcements and other in-kind support. "In this difficult time of recovery and rebuilding, our hearts go out to the families affected by the tornadoes," said Cox Oklahoma's Percy Kirk. Cox's local media properties in Tulsa are also hosting a series of fundraisers.
Hearst Stations Raise $1 Million for Relief Efforts
Hearst's TV stations across the country have followed KOCO-TV Oklahoma City's lead in raising money for relief efforts in Oklahoma. Since the storms, Hearst stations in Omaha, Kansas City, Sacramento, Baltimore and many other cities have raised $1 million and collected tons of emergency supplies. "The tragic tornado of Moore, Oklahoma is another reminder of the critical public service role of local broadcast television stations," said Hearst Television Inc. President Jordan Wertlieb.
Raycom Stations Raise More Than $100,00 and Collect Truckloads of Supplies
Several Raycom Media-owned television stations conducted relief efforts following the tornado. Stations donating to the American Red Cross include WSFA-TV Montgomery, Ala. ($50,232); WMC-TV Memphis ($36,000); WCSC-TV Charleston, S.C. ($10,000); WWBT Richmond, Va. (over $7,000); and KAIT-TV Jonesboro, Ark., organized a statewide telethon. WAFB-TV Birmingham, Ala., collected several storage unit's full of supplies for the Salvation Army in its one day donation drive. WBRC-TV Birmingham collected 200,000 pounds of water for the Salvation Army. KOLD-TV Tucson, Ariz., filled two semi-trucks with supplies, to be distributed by World Care.
NBC and Blake Shelton Help in the Heartland, Raising $6 Million for the United Way
NBC hosted the Healing in the Heartland benefit concert featuring Blake Shelton and special guests Miranda Lambert, Usher, Reba, Darius Ruker and others. The program also aired on Clear Channel and Cumulus stations across the country. The concert raised more than $6 million in pledges and ticket sales to help Oklahomans affected by the May 20 tornado. All proceeds went to the United Way of Central Oklahoma.
Broadcasters Across America Support Oklahomans
ABC's KABC-TV Los Angeles Raises $445,000 for Victims
ABC-owned KABC-TV Los Angeles, with the Orange County and Los Angeles Chapters of the American Red Cross, raised $445,000 for Oklahoma tornado victims during The Tornado Relief Drive on May 22. The event featured several on-air personalities and collected $410,000 in one day, in addition to $35,000 in mail-in donations. "Time after time, we have seen the people of Southern California come together in a time of need, no matter where the need is, and we are grateful to them for their generosity," said Arnold J. Kleiner, president-GM of KABC-TV.
Hearst's Sacramento Stations Collect $365,000 in One Day
Hearst-owned KCRA-TV and KQCA-TV Sacramento raised more than $365,000 during its Oklahoma Tornado Relief Drive. The stations aired coverage of the relief efforts and solicited viewer donations during newscasts. The American Red Cross provided a hotline and text-to-give campaign to receive donations. "Sacramento may be hundreds of miles from Oklahoma, but the devastation and the stories of heroism touched us all," said Lori Waldon, KCRA news director. "We are overwhelmed by the viewer response and generosity to our Oklahoma Tornado Relief Drive."
Dispatch-owned WTHR-TV Indianapolis Raises $60,000 for Oklahoma Victims
Dispatch Broadcasting Group's WTHR-TV Indianapolis hosted the "WTHR Cares: Oklahoma Tornado Relief" drive to provide donations to the American Red Cross. The effort raised more than $60,000 from viewers who donated online or at several locations throughout Central Indiana. "We are always amazed and grateful for the generosity of Hoosiers," said WTHR President-GM John Cardenas.
CBS Dallas / Fort Worth Continues to Raise Money
CBS-owned KTVT-TV Fort Worth and KLUV-FM Dallas partnered with the Dallas Cowboys and Albertsons Markets to raise money for tornado victims. The initial phone bank on May 16 raised more than $19,000 and a follow-up effort the next week added $45,000. Additional funds will be collected via online donations, mailed checks and the in-store donations through June 6.
CBS Philly Raises $225,000 During One-Day Relief Effort
CBS-owned stations in Philadelphia – KYW-TV, WPSG-TV, KYW-AM, WOGL-FM, WIP-AM/FM and WPHT-AM – raised more than $225,000 during "Operation Brotherly Love: Helping Moore." On-air talent and volunteers answered phones from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 23. All proceeds went to the American Red Cross. "Once again we are overwhelmed at the generosity of our viewers who always come through for their neighbors whether it's locally, across the country or around the world," said the stations' general manager, Jon Hitchcock.
Scripp's WXYZ-TV Detroit's Telethon Raises $85,000
Scripps-owned WXYZ-TV Detroit partnered with the American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Region to host a live telethon to raise money for Oklahoma disaster victims. The station's viewers donated $85,000. "Once again, the entire WXYZ team and the Detroit community rose to the occasion and took action. Our ability to respond to this tragedy and mobilize our efforts in a matter of hours truly reflects the passion of this team – and this city," said WXYZ Station Manager Mike Murri.
WRAL-TV Raises $94,000 from North Carolina Viewers During Relief Telethon
Capitol Broadcasting's WRAL-TV Raleigh, N.C., raised $94,000 for the American Red Cross and Salvation Army tornado relief efforts. The Here to Help: Disaster Relief Telethon featured a commercial-free, primetime broadcast of the UNC School of the Arts' award-winning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" with live cut-ins from the studio. The telethon was simulcast statewide on public television station UNC-EX. "This was a true partnership, a uniquely North Carolina way to help those families who are hurting in Oklahoma," said Steven D. Hammel of WRAL. "The results truly demonstrate the power of local television, both commercial and public, to be both lifelines in the moment of emergency and in the aftermath."
WDSU-TV New Orleans Raises $55,000 During Two-Night Campaign
Hearst-owned WDSU-TV New Orleans partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana for "Help For Oklahoma," a two-night, four-hour phone bank. For two nights, WDSU-TV committed all of its local commercial breaks between 6 and 8 p.m. to run on-air appeals for donations, and ran a continuous on-screen ticker with the phone number during regular programming. In total, the campaign raised $55,000 for vicitims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.
CBS's KYKY-FM Raises $67,000 with 14-Hour Request-A-Thon
CBS Radio's KYKY-FM St. Louis morning show, "Phillips and Company" raised more than $67,000 for the American Red Cross's relief effort in Oklahoma. KYKY-FM held a 14-hour on-air request-a-thon playing listener requests for donations. The benefit raised $33,670 and a local business matched each donation.
WITI-TV Raises $125,000 for Tornado Victims
Independently-owned WITI-TV Milwaukee worked with the American Red Cross to host three phone banks following the tornadoes in Moore, Okla. Over the course of those phone banks, WITI-TV's viewers donated $125,000 to the Red Cross's relief efforts.
Iowa Radio and TV Stations Raise $38,000 for Relief Efforts
Young Broadcasting's KWQC-TV Davenport, Iowa, raised more than $38,000 for the American Red Cross' relief efforts in Moore, Okla. Six radio stations owned by the Clear Channel Radio Group partnered with KWQC-TV in requesting donations through broadcast and social media outlets. "The kindness of the Quad Cities never ceases to amaze me," said Ken Freedman, vice president and general manager of KWQC. Last fall, KWQC received similar levels of support in fundraising following Hurricane Sandy.
Beasley's Miami Host Drives 80,000 Pounds of Supplies to Moore
Beasley Broadcast Group's WPOW-FM Miami collected 80,000 pounds of supplies such as water, non-perishable food, baby supplies, pet supplies, electric wheelchairs, toiletries, rakes and shovels for tornado victims in Moore, Okla. During three days of live broadcasts, the station encouraged residents to write "messages of hope" on their donated items to add a personal touch. WPOW-FM afternoon host Africa traveled 27 hours from Miami to Moore with the two trucks that contained the 80,000 pounds of goods. The Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Club provided 300 retired police officers as an escort on the journey, which WPOW-FM documented on-air and via social media.
Centennial Broadcasting Contributes to Tornado Relief
Centennial Broadcasting's stations in Fredericksburg, Va., donated $1,001.50 during the stations' Operation: Help Moore event. During the six-hour broadcast, listeners donated over 15,000 relief items and $1,176.50 in contributions. Centennial's $1,001.50 donation was used to purchase children's items such as playpens, baby formula, baby wipes, towels and pillows.
Premier Broadcasting Fills 53-Foot Truck with Relief Supplies
Premier Broadcasting in Effengham, Ill., partnered with several local businesses to host the "More 4 Moore" campaign to collect emergency supplies for those affected by the tornadoes. Premier created a webpage for the campaign and included solicitations on their Facebook page. Listeners filled a 53-foot truck with donations for tornado victims.
Terre Haute Radio and TV Stations Partner for Relief Effort
Midwest Communications' five stations in in Terre Haute, Ind., partnered with local NexStar-owned WTWO-TV for "Mission: Moore" to raise money for Oklahoma tornado victims. The 13-hour event collected enough supplies to fill a semi-truck and raised more than $26,000.