an article I wrote for Radio Survivor about coastal Bay Area coverage of the Tsunami in Japan
An article I wrote in Radio Survivor about coastal Bay Area coverage of the Tsunami in Japan
Listening for Bay Area Tsunami alerts on the radio
March 16th, 2011 by Kevin Vance in emergencies
I’ve been monitoring the earthquake, tidal waves and nuclear meltdowns happening in Japan this week. I have family close to the coast in Santa Cruz county, so I was worried to hear about Tsunami warnings.
EDIS, California State Emergency network online had the basic warnings posted up and down the coast. They just stated the facts as they saw it, so many feet or decimals of feet to reach various places on the coast at certain times.
I went to KUSP and KAZU online, the two major public radio stations there. Both were carrying NPR’s Morning Edition and KQED’s California Report. Both station’s local announcers, at their every-10-minute breaks, were calmly, if not slightly awkwardly, reading their underwriting spots and giving 1-2 sentence announcements about evacuations being advisory, and only if residents received reverse 911 calls.
KSCO the AM station in Santa Cruz had the most to report. Their morning show team seemed to have the most practical information, that the advised evacuation was for 3 blocks from the beach. They even had a Spanish Speaking Emergency Services worker on the phone telling listeners to stay away from the river as well as the beaches, and if not, to not worry. There had been an observation that some local Spanish speaking stations were not adequately informing their listeners of the events of the day, probably because they were carrying network programming, and not local, so this was an effort to make up for it.
But their Fox News Radio network break at the top of the hour was disgusting, sensationalizing the earthquake in Japan, mispronouncing Libyan place names with pride and gloating over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signing the anti-Collective Bargaining bill.
Years ago, I heard a colleague complain about a local community broadcaster, who was more excited about a new album from a well-loved singer, rather than an impending storm about to hit. Perhaps that station didn’t have proper news resources, even cheap or free ones to employ. In this most recent development, two locals did take the initiative.
KWMR, the community station in Point Reyes, impressed me. There was one host giving information about school closures, warnings to stay away from the beaches, and other news, comfortably going back and forth in Spanish and English. KWMR’s Friday morning volunteer programmer would play one song, usually something danceable and in Spanish, then come back with news, then repeat.
KPDO in Pescadero along the San Mateo coast did the same thing. They had two young women on the air giving news about road and school closures, one in English, one in Spanish. The songs played in between breaks were about Water, Waves, and Floods. Clever choice of music, I thought.
And to top it off, NHK World was able to tell it like it was, with scary video actualities and dignified continuity from their newsreaders. Not even Al-Jazeera was this calm carrying news from the streets of Egypt a couple of weeks before.