Local Broadcasters: A Lifeline for Residents of Moore, OK

NAB is proud to present the third installment in a powerful video series demonstrating the irreplaceable and indispensable role that local radio and television broadcasters play as “first informers” during times of emergency.  The first installment featured the tornadoes of Joplin, MO and Tuscaloosa, AL; the second featured broadcast station efforts from Washington, DC to New York in the coverage of Superstorm Sandy.

This film focuses on Moore, OK, where in May deadly tornadoes stretching 17 miles long and measuring 1.3 miles wide ripped through the nation’s heartland, demolishing neighborhoods, businesses, a hospital and two elementary schools. Twenty-four people died, a toll that could have been far greater were it not for the efforts of local broadcasters.

Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin thanked broadcasters in a 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…I had many people come up and say, because of the media and their rapid response and reporting on the track of the storms, they were able to get to a storm shelter and be safe.”

This 6-minute mini-documentary features never-before-seen footage of the devastation, along with testimonials from local broadcasters related to their preparation for the unprecedented weather emergency, their uninterrupted news coverage, their support for first responders and victims of the storm, and their assist in recovery efforts.  The film includes commentaries from broadcasters such as these:

“It was no longer about having good television, and instead it was about providing life-saving information.”  Damon Lane, KOCO-TV Oklahoma City chief meteorologist

“You have to be as descriptive as you can and paint the best picture of what the storm is doing and where the storm is.”  Jon Welsh, KFOR-TV,  Bob Moore Chopper 4 pilot/reporter

“(Our station) was constantly getting needed, vital information…(Listeners) knowing that you’re connected like that means the world to them.” Janet, KJ103 (KJYO-FM), morning show host

“When we really shine is when the storm has passed and the recovery efforts start.”  Brad Copeland, KATT-FM morning show host

“Any little way that we can help make someone’s life a little easier during these tough times.  I think that’s what it’s all about.” Steve O’Brien, Magic 104.1 KMGL, program director/morning show host.

“With the power of that storm and with the velocity that it had coming in to that Moore area; if (residents) hadn’t known, we could have lost hundreds (of lives), and we didn’t.” Linda Cavanaugh, KFOR-TV, anchor/reporter

NAB salutes the heroic lifeline coverage of Oklahoma broadcasters. Many thanks once again to the film’s producer Media Arts Professor Scott Hodgson from the University of Oklahoma.  Working with the Broadcast Education Association, Scott and his students spent countless hours collecting footage and conducting interviews for this video account of broadcasters’ remarkable efforts in covering this horrific act of Mother Nature.