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Broadcasters' Public Service
February 2016
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Radio and television broadcasters constantly serve local communities. Stations air lifeline emergency information; support our troops; raise millions for cancer research and treatment; collect tons of food, clothes and toys; devote free air time to election coverage; and promote education and health.

Submit your station's public service story to Suzie Raven

Broadcast vs. Cable TV Ratings During Storm

On January 22-23, Winter Storm Jonas brought record snowfall to the East Coast, with parts of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. receiving more than two feet of snow.

Local radio and television broadcasters provided wall-to-wall coverage of the storm, delivering critical updates on weather patterns, road closures and emergency information to local residents. News crews and station staff members braved the elements during heavy snow falls and winds gusting at up to 40 miles per hour. They stayed at nearby hotels or set up cots at work to make sure their stations stayed on air.

The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB)'s analysis of Nielsen data "reveals that local broadcast TV news was overwhelmingly preferred as the source for storm coverage over cable news during the blizzard on January 23, 2016."

TVNewsCheck shared a video from Sinclair's ABC affiliate WJLA's 56 hours of live coverage, captured by 24 crews.

Hearst's NBC affiliate WBAL viewers thanked the station for providing critical updates. One viewer said: "I just want to give you and your news casters a HUGE SHOUT OUT!!! We can always count on you to be out there in the thick of things whether winter conditions or other news worthy conditions keeping us up to date and informed. Especially now. My heart goes out for all you guys out in this nasty night letting us know what to expect. Everyone forgets that without the news we would be in trouble. SO A BIG THANK YOU TO EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU!!"

D.C. News Crews Go Above and Beyond

In addition to providing round-the-clock coverage, Tegna's CBS affiliate WUSA crews helped Montgomery County, Md., residents dig out from under the snow. Watch video.

"It is absolutely ALL HANDS ON DECK here and the round the clock coverage has been underway online all week! I personally have brought a cot to the weather center just in case I don't care to leave, but we have hotel rooms ready just up the street!" said Fox-owned WTTG Weather Anchor Susan Palka.

Broadcasting & Cable and TVSpy featured articles on the temendous storm coverage broadcasters provided.

WTOP-FM Values Broadcasters' Role as a Lifeline

Hubbard Radio Group's WTOP-FM booked hotel rooms for staff to ensure that the all-news station could provide important public safety, weather and traffic information. News Director Julia Ziegler said, "We see ourselves as a lifeline in emergency situations like this historic snowstorm... We become a megaphone for public officials to share life-saving information on every platform we operate: radio, web and social media. In addition, we make ourselves available to our audience via email and phone to answer people's most important questions and sometimes just be an ear to listen. We take this responsibility seriously."

The Baltimore Sun Praises Broadcasters' Coverage

Baltimore Sun Reporter David Zurawik praised broadcasters for their coverage of the blizzard. "What I did see was... a sense of public service... As it is every day, the role of the journalist is to give citizens reliable, vetted, accurate information that they can use to make good decisions about their lives. In a weather event like this, it can literally be life and death."

As Baltimore began to dig out from Winter Storm Jonas, Zurawik added, "[Broacasters were] providing a sense of shared experience and even community for some housebound viewers not particularly wired into social media. And I suspect some of those were among the residents who felt most threatened by this storm."

WCBS and WLNY Use Special Equipment to Cover Jonas

Broadcasting & Cable reported that CBS-owned WCBS-TV and WLNY-TV New York are the market's only stations with a weather service on wheels, which delivers hyper-local weather data and images used on air. The stations also used bonded cellular technology in their Mobile 2 vehicles to provide a live stream of storm coverage to mobile devices.

Student-run WSOU-FM Stays On air

Seton Hall University's WSOU-FM stayed live on air while the university was closed. Students worked in shifts to provide news, weather and traffic updates. "Experiences like these help prepare students for their careers and demonstrate that student-run college radio stations can be vital souces of information for the communities they serve," said General Manager Mark Maben.

Broadcasters Provide Relief to Flint, Other Cities in Crisis

WDIV Supports Flint During Water Crisis

Graham Media Group's NBC affiliate WDIV-TV Detroit provided in-depth coverage and community support for the Flint water crisis. WDIV collected more than $3,400 and several truckloads of bottled water. WDIV's consumer investigative unit, "Help Me Hank," reported on the origin of the crisis, how residents coped, the National Guard's arrival, protests at the capitol and Hurley Children's Hospital treatment for children exposed to lead. WDIV interviewed health experts and government officials, including Governor Snyder. "The devastating water crisis in Flint reminds us just how important local television can be, especially in digging for answers, demanding solutions and aiding our community neighbors," said Director of Local Programming Laurie Oberman. Watch video.

iHeartMedia Detroit Collects 240 Tons of Water

iHeartMedia's WNIC-FM Detroit morning show host Jay Towers produced and hosted a water drive on Jan. 23, in conjunction with iHeartMedia's Detroit cluster and Fox-owned WJBK-TV, to help the Flint water crisis. The stations collected 240 tons of water. The event broadcast live on WNIC-FM, WKQI-FM, WJLB-FM, WDTW-FM, WMXD-FM, WDFN-AM and WJBK-TV. Watch video.

Indianapolis Stations Deliver 20,000 Gallons of Water

Tribune's Fox affiliate WXIN and CBS affiliate WTTV Indianapolis partnered with Cumulus' WRWM-FM and WJJK-FM Indianapolis to collect bottled water for the citizens of Flint during the week of Jan. 18. The on air, online and on-site promotions resulted in 205,000 bottles of water and over 20,000 gallons of water, plus thousands of dollars in cash. On Jan. 29, six semi-trucks delivered the water to Flint.

WSNN-LD Provides Lifeline Coverage of Sarasota Tornado

Suncoast News Network's WSNN Sarasota, Fla., provided lifeline coverage of tornados on Jan. 17 that killed two and caused widespread property damage. Meteorologists Justin Mosely, Cassie Nall and Joshua Rivas accurately predicted the storm's development off the Gulf Coast, providing viewers with ample warning so they could prepare. WSNN provided more than nine hours of continuous live coverage. In the following weeks, WSNN covered rebuilding efforts, including Governor Rick Scott's trip to Siesta Key. "Our viewers depend upon SNN," said President and General Manager Doug Barker. "They know when the weather turns bad, SNN will be there live and will stay live as long as conditions warrant." Read comments from appreciative viewers.

WFAA Raises $400,000 for Tornado Relief

Tegna's ABC affiliate WFAA Dallas raised $400,000 for American Red Cross disaster relief efforts. The Dec. 26 tornado outbreak was deemed the deadliest outbreak to hit Dallas in 65 years, killing 13 people and destroying hundreds of homes. WFAA held a phone bank on Dec. 28, set up online donations and partnered with a local grocery store, Tom Thumb, for in-store donations.

KTUU Provides Lifeline Coverage of Earthquake

Schurz's NBC affiliate KTUU-TV Anchorage, Alaska, provided lifeline coverage of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 24. One viewer said, "Congratulations and THANK YOU for getting personnel on air as quickly as you folks did… you couldn't have broadcast any sooner… a sense of panic set in when information was not available. Emergencies such as 7.1 or more demonstrate why there were advantages in the [broadcast] system." KTUU's coverage can be found here and here.

WTVY Raises $32,000 for Flood Relief

Gray Television's CBS affiliate WTVY-TV Dothan, Ala., raised more than $32,000 for local flood relief efforts, following recent storms that ravaged the region.

Stations Raise Millions for Hospitals, Health Centers

KMBC's Community Service Raises $4.6 Million

Hearst's ABC affiliate KMBC Kansas City, Mo., aired this year-end spot showcasing the station's community service efforts in 2015 that helped raise $4.6 million for important causes.

KTTC Telethon Tops $1 Million

Quincy's NBC affiliate KTTC Rochester, Minn., raised $1 million during the 62nd annual Eagles Cancer telethon, Jan. 16-17. The live event included entertainment and refreshments. All money raised funds local cancer research for the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and the Hormel Institute. Watch video.

KTAB Raises $1.3 Million for Rehab

Nexstar Broadcasting's CBS affiliate KTAB-TV Abilene, Texas, raised $1.3 million on Jan. 16 during the West Texas Rehabilitation Telethon. Since the event's inception, KTAB has raised $40 million for the rehab center. This year's telethon included a silent auction, musical performances and a variety of activities.

WTEN Collects $2 Million for Kids With Disabilities

Media General's ABC affiliate WTEN Albany raised a record $2 million during the 56th annual Center for Disability Services Telethon, held Jan. 31. Didi Gregorius of the New York Yankees and Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants joined the WTEN morning team for the broadcast. The Center for Disability Services provides a number of resources to empower people with disabilities.

WAND Brings in $350,000 for Cerebral Palsy

Block Communication's NBC affiliate WAND-TV Decatur, Ill., raised $350,000 in its 15th annual telethon on Jan. 31 for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). UCP serves people with cerebral palsy, autism, Down Syndrome and epilepsy. Due to state budget cuts, this year's telethon was particularly important. "This telethon helps us keep our doors open and meet payroll," said UCP President Brenda Yarnell.

WEAU Raises $313,000 for Cerebral Palsy

Gray Television's NBC affiliate WEAU Eau Claire, Wis., raised a record $313,000 in the 36th annual United Cerebral Palsy Star Fest Telethon, held Jan. 31. WEAU continued to collect donations online. The telethon supports the hundreds of children, adults and families dealing with the challenges of disabilities in the 12-county area of West Central Wisconsin served by UCP.

Cumulus Dallas Radiothons Net $1.2 Million in 2015

Cumulus Media Dallas - KPLX-FM, KSCS-FM, WBAP-AM, KLIF-FM, KTCK-AM and KESN-FM - raised $1.2 million for charities in 2015. They raised $205,449 for Cook Children's Hospital, $303,157 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and $500,400 for Austin Street Center. Additionally, they provided lifeline tornado coverage on Christmas Day and worked with the Red Cross on disaster relief. Other events supported the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Special Olympics Texas, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Charles E. Nash Elementary School's Martin Luther King, Jr. Learning Center and the Denton State Supported Living Center.

KYTX Named Station of the Year

Tegna's CBS affiliate KYTX Tyler, Texas, was named the 2015 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN) National "Television Station of the Year." KYTX was nominated along with stations in 170 television markets. During the station's 12-year partnership with CMN, KYTX has raised millions of dollars in an annual telethon, supported local events and educated the community on CMN's local impact. "This award is a testament to the work they do, their professionalism, skill, and compassion for the community they serve," said Robin Rowan, Director of CMNH at Trinity Mother Frances. Watch video.

WPRI-TV Raises $1 Million for Meeting Street

Media General's CBS affiliate WPRI-TV Providence, R.I., raised more than $1 million in its Jan. 31 telethon for Meeting Street's educational programs. Meeting Street serves almost 5,000 children each year, many of whom have significant learning disabilities. The annual telethon attracts hundreds of guests and tens of thousands of viewers and is Meeting Street's largest fundraiser. The telethon included special segments featuring children in Meeting Street's programs. Seven-year-old Molly, who has cerebral palsy, hosted a significant part of the broadcast. Watch video.

Broadcasters Air In-Depth News Coverage of Critical Issues

WSET Airs Town Hall on Gun Violence

Sinclair's ABC affiliate WSET-TV Lynchburg, Va., aired a town hall, "Your Voice, Your Future: Gun Violence in America," on Jan. 12. A panel of experts discussed a variety of issues, including their reactions to President Obama's Executive Action to reduce gun violence. WSET also streamed the town hall live online.

WGCL Airs "Gun Fight" Town Hall in Primetime

Meredith's CBS affiliate WGCL Atlanta aired "The Gun Fight — A Primetime Special" on Jan. 12. The two-hour town hall featured 25 participants with different perspectives, including judges, prosecutors, elected officials, religious leaders, law enforcement, gun rights advocates and victims. WGCL aired more than 20 related stories in November.

CBS LA Earns a Dozen Golden Mike Awards

CBS-owned KCBS-TV, KCAL-TV and KNX-AM were honored on Jan. 23 with a dozen Golden Mike Awards from the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California, recognizing excellence in local broadcast journalism. KCBS won for David Goldstein's investigation into water waste at federal facilities and a feature on a California Highway Patrol officer who was hit by a car while on duty. KCAL won for a feature about military veterans finding refuge in caring for sick and injured birds. KNX-AM earned five Golden Mikes for breaking news coverage of an officer-involved shooting and regular features, such as KNX Afternoon News, KNX Traffic on the 5s and KNX Money Hour.

WRAL Documentary Examines New Controversial Farms

Capitol Broadcasting's CBS affiliate WRAL-TV Raleigh aired "Power Switch," a documentary on the explosive yet controversial growth of solar energy and wind farms, on Jan. 12. In 2014, nearly 200 companies that employ 5,600 people were involved in solar production, representing a $650 million investment. North Carolina's first large-scale, commercial wind farm is currently under construction. The documentary is still available for on-demand viewing.

WXYZ Detroit "Fix My School" Leads to Results

E.W. Scripps' ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV Detroit aired a "Fix My School" investigative piece on Jan. 15. Days later, on Jan. 19, Detroit health inspectors visited the featured school. The segment showed a classroom where water had been seeping through the ceiling for three years, causing the teacher to feel ill. The room was also attached to a visibly dilapidated greenhouse that housed squirrels and rats. The only separation came from drafty windows and a door with holes in it and no doorknob.

Entravision Launches Hispanic 360 Political Awareness

Entravision is encouraging Latinos to participate in the 2016 presidential election through its multi-platform campaign, "Tú Decides." The multi-platform campaign, which launched on Dec. 3 with a voter registration drive, encompasses Entravision's television, radio, social and online assets. It includes Spanish-language news and political content on and is customized for each market.

Gov. Strickland Declines Debate

Scripps' ABC affiliate WCPO-TV Cincinnati asked Democratic candidates for U.S. Senator from Ohio, former Governor Ted Strickland and Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld to participate in a televised debate. Strickland declined to participate and said he would also decline any debate requests from other outlets.

WVVA's "In-Focus" Features W.V. Senators

Quincy's NBC affiliate WVVA Bluefield, W.V., hosted Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin on a special edition of "In Focus." On the show, the senators discussed past accomplishments, goals for 2016 and answered viewer questions.

Broadcasters Increase Local News Coverage

Television broadcasters that recently increased their local news programing include:
  • Hearst's NBC affiliate KCRA-TV Sacramento added a one-hour weekday newscast at 4 p.m. on Jan. 25. It features live HD traffic updates and breaking news coverage from the air.
  • Sinclair's NBC affiliate WOAI San Antonio added a half-hour noon newscast on Jan. 25 that features developing local stories, breaking news and a weather forecast. "We continue to look for opportunities to serve our community," said News Director Blaise Labbe.
  • Hearst's NBC affiliate WLWT-TV Cincinnati added a half-hour 10 p.m. newscast on Jan. 11 that airs in addition to the station's existing 11 p.m. news.
  • Tribune's Fox affiliate KTVI St. Louis launched a half-hour weeknight 11 p.m. newscast on Jan. 18. It is anchored by award-winning journalists Shirley Washington and Jasmine Huda.
  • Hearst's ABC affiliate WCVB-TV Boston launched two new half-hour weeknight newscasts at 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Jan. 11.
  • Cox Media Group's Fox affiliate WFOX Jacksonville, Fla., added an additional hour of weekday local news on Jan. 11.
  • The News Press & Gazette's ABC affiliate KMIZ Columbia, Mo., added six hours of local news programming to its weekend lineup on Jan. 9, with newscasts at 6 and 8 a.m.
  • Sinclair's CBS affiliate WPEC West Palm Beach, Fla., added an hour-long 9 a.m. newscast on Jan. 11, bringing its weekly total to 42 hours of news. In addition to breaking news, weather and live event coverage, the newscast includes a strong interactive component.
  • Hearst's NBC affiliate WBAL-TV Baltimore expanded its "11 News Tonight" to one hour on Jan. 31. They now offer 38 hours of original, locally-produced news every week.

Broadcasters Support Communities

Univision Programs Promote Education

Univision Communications Inc. (UCI) launched its annual multi-platform campaign, "¡Estudia, Hay Dinero!" (There's Money to Study!), on Jan. 11 on its radio and television stations to raise awareness about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program. The campaign features more than 100 workshops and phone banks, a digital FAFSA hub and a digital parent academy. In 2015, 42,000 people attended the workshops.

On Jan. 23, Univision News aired "Puente al Futuro" (Bridge to the Future), a program exploring how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in place in 42 states affect Hispanic students. It is now available online, along with an extensive report in Spanish and English, and was produced with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Beasley Augusta, Ga., Raises $50,000

Beasley's WKXC-FM Augusta, Ga., raised $50,000 in the "Rock 4 the Cops" concert, benefitting the Post Critical Incident Seminar (PCIS)'s training for police officers after traumatic incidents. The concert featured "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery and "The Voice" winner Cassadee Pope.

KMEG Sioux City, Iowa, Collects Toys and Coats

Waitt Broadcasting's CBS affiliate KMEG and Sinclair's Fox affiliate KPTH Sioux City, Iowa, collected toys for more than 3,500 children this December, setting a record for the event. They also collected 1,500 coats from a dozen collection points, which were distributed through the Salvation Army of Sioux City.

WCCO Raises $260,000 to Kick Hunger

CBS Radio's WCCO-FM Minneapolis' seventh annual "Let's Kick Hunger Day" radiothon on Jan. 28 raised almost $262,000, pushing the event's seven-year total to more than $1.4 million for Second Harvest Heartland. "It's a real honor for all of us at WCCO Radio to be a part of such a meaningful and important effort," said Market Manager Shannon Knoepke.