Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: August 6, 2013

Radio was a key communications source during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Photo: PBS.

Radio was a key communications source during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Photo: PBS.

We’re midway through hurricane season, which reminded me of the reports out of the east coast after Hurricane Sandy last year. The ability to provide timely emergency information to our citizens has been tested mightily in recent years. The clear winner are the broadcast radio stations across America.  What about our smart phones you say?  There is a problem with any part of an emergency alert system traveling along a public network like the Internet. Cell phones simply didn’t work on 9/11 or after last year’s Hurricane Sandy.  In fact, millions of residents woke up after Sandy without power, cell phone coverage or any Internet.  But they could turn on their battery powered radio to hear what was going on.  WOSU 89.7 FM serves as the official emergency alert station of The Ohio State University, while also providing key information and news during any local crisis.  It’s somehow comforting that this nearly 100-year old technology called radio continues to play a critical role in our communities especially during the worst of disasters.


  • DWIGHT BOBSON

    The premise is faulty. NPR does not depend on federal funds. Local stations depend on federal funds and that’s where federal funds go. Each local station is governed by its own local community and provides programming for its local community per its local board policies and its community advisory boards, based on local needs and interests. Each station chooses to buy, or not buy, programs from individual production companies and producers, for example, American Public Media, Public Media International, NPR, Association of Independents in Public radio, etc. Each station also produces its own programs. Some local stations, mostly in rural and smaller communities, depend on federal funds for up to 50% of their budget. Stations in the larger markets may get less than 5% federal funds. So to cut federal dollars is to prevent the smallest communities the opportunity to have locally controlled public media. Based on the facts, the discussion is very different from the one being presented.