30 agosto 2010

Cinque anni fa l'alleanza radiofonica per New Orleans

Mentre il Presidente Obama visita New Orleans in occasione del quinto anniversario dell'uragano Katrina e della devastante inondazione che mise in ginocchio la città, la radiofonia americana celebra l'avventura di United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans, l'alleanza che dal primo settembre 2005 fino all'inizio novembre di quell'anno permise agli abitanti della città simbolo della Louisiana e del jazz di restare informati sulle proporzioni bibliche del disastro. Per settimane tutte le stazioni radio rimaste attive si riunirono intorno al "faro" di WWL 870 kHz e misero insieme un pool di forze tecniche e giornalistiche per creare un unico flusso di notizie e avvisi. I due protagonisti principali, Clear Channel e Entercom Communications, erano agguerriti rivali sui mercati pubblicitari, ma l'emergenza fu più forte e ogni considerazione commerciale venne messa da parte.
Per ricordare questo evento, davvero unico nel panorama del giornalismo americano, da sempre caratterizzato da una forte competizione interna (che ne garantisce la leggendaria indipendenza), ecco il comunicato ufficiale con cui Clear Channel annuncia, il 2 settembre 2005, la nascita di United Radio Broadcasters e un articolo del N.O. Times Picayune di qualche giorno dopo. L'articolo di Dave Walker ci fa capire l'importanza, in quei drammatici giorni, di quel flusso di voci che arrivavano a milioni di persone attraverso le radioline a batteria, in un territorio dove telefoni fissi e mobili e televisori non potevano funzionare per mancanza di elettricità.

Clear Channel Joins Other Radio Groups to Form United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA – In response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the radio groups serving New Orleans and the surrounding area have come together to form the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans. The United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans is a joint effort to provide the region with the most complete, reliable and consistent radio broadcast of emergency recovery and relief information. It is comprised of stations operated by Clear Channel Radio, Entercom Communications and independent stations in the New Orleans area.
An estimated 15 stations are combining programming and engineering resources. Programming consists of continuous news, information and coverage of local relief efforts and will include live feeds from street reporters.
“Given the state of New Orleans, we believe it is critical for the community to have the most current and accurate information available,” said John Hogan, President and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. “Radio is best positioned to provide this service and by coming together and pooling our resources we will be able to provide the community with news, updates and a connection with the outside world.”


Radio rivals join forces to make radio news 'history'
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Dave Walker, The Times-Picayune

Earl and water are mixing on Louisiana airwaves.
Entercom and Clear Channel, two national station groups with New Orleans clusters, normally would be cutting figurative throats to compete for every advertising nickel.
But with the market's economy temporarily submerged - and listener lives on the line -- they've combined to keep an essential stream of news and information flowing to hurricane survivors.
The joint signal has been carried in New Orleans on Entercom's WWL AM-870, WSMB AM-1350 and WLMG FM-101.9; and Clear Channel's WYLD FM-98.5, WQUE FM-93.3 and KHEV FM-104.1. Segments have also aired on Clear Channel's Baton Rouge news-talk station WJBO AM-1150.
With power out and cellular and land-line phones largely disabled, imagine all the New Orleans stay-behinds whose only link to the outside world has been a battery-powered radio.
Inside Clear Channel's Baton Rouge headquarters, computer monitors, plywood sheets and unopened boxes crowd hallways. Deliveries of supplies and office furniture stream into and out of the reception area.
Beyond the anteroom, staffers from 18 different radio stations are jammed into the studios and cubicles that serviced just six people pre-Katrina. At night, the conference room becomes a bunkhouse. Off-duty staffers are also housed in RVs parked outside.
In such cramped quarters, no conversation goes uninterrupted for long.
The nonstop conversation in the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans studio, however, has made for moments of demographic incongruity among all the data dissemination.
Tuesday afternoon, for instance, WWL's Deke Bellavia, a likeable sports-talk colloquialist who'd never be confused with William F. Buckley, was paired with
WYLD's A.J. Appleberry, a smooth-pipes urbanite.
The temporary melding of the assets of the two companies emerged from "a battlefield discussion" that resulted in the agreement that "we make friends and we make history, " said Dick Lewis, Clear Channel's Baton Rouge market manager.
"This is why radio will never go away or be replaced by satellite, " added Lewis. "It reinforces the value of local radio" informing an audience that might be listening "in an attic with nothing but their radio and a flashlight."
The duocast is costing both companies "hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, " said Lewis. "And that doesn't count the lost revenue" from stations knocked off the air or carrying a limited commercial load, he added.
WWL program Director Diane Newman rode out Katrina in the station's group's offices in the New Orleans Centre. With the wind knocking out windows, "It was like we were on the air during 'The Poseidon Adventure, '" she said.
After downtown became unsafe, Newman oversaw WWL's retreat to the Jefferson Parish Emergency Operations Center, then to Baton Rouge.
Throughout, lifeline coverage never lagged. No end date for the cooperative broadcast has been set.
"We have to stay connected, " Newman said.
Radio has provided some of the most riveting media moments during the Katrina disaster, from host Garland Robinette's live play-by-play of Katrina's attack on New Orleans to Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard's desperate call for succession to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's outrage-packed attack on state and federal relief efforts.
If anybody had suggested a partnership of any kind between Entercom and Clear Channel two weeks ago, said Newman, they would've been laughed out of the studio.
Now, she said, "I think magical things are happening on the air here."

Nessun commento: