Local Broadcasters: Hurricane Harvey Heroes

NAB and the Broadcast Education Association are pleased to present the fourth installment in a powerful video series demonstrating the indispensable role that local radio and television broadcasters serve as “first informers” during times of emergency.

This film focuses on broadcasters’ heroic response to Hurricane Harvey, which in late August 2017 dumped more than 40 inches of rain in four days, causing historic flooding in east Texas and leaving tens of thousands of residents homeless.

The 5-minute mini-documentary features dramatic footage of the devastation and examples of broadcasters’ Herculean efforts to provide life-saving emergency information and community assistance.

Stations devoted enormous resources as staff risked their own safety to provide essential coverage, coped with flooded stations, and overcame technical difficulties to stay on air – all while many station staff members experienced their own property damage and were displaced from family members.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who visited Houston shortly after the hurricane, shared with the documentary team his appreciation for broadcasters.  “People really want information when there’s something that’s threatening them and their families, and broadcasters step into the breach and provide that information,” said Pai.

Interviews with more than 45 broadcasters reveal their dedication to journalism and commitment to serving communities, particularly in times of need.

“(Covering the storm) was our most difficult hour and our finest hour.” Len Cannon, Anchor, KHOU 11, Houston, TX

“The role of local media in a disaster like this is to really be a lifeline for our viewers.” Sally MacDonald, Anchor, KRIV Fox 26, Houston, TX

“It’s almost an instinct.  You go out, and you do it, and you cover it because this is something that affects not only you personally or your family, but also millions of people.” Lester Gretsch, Sports Anchor, KXLN Univision 45, Houston, TX

“(Broadcasters) are their eyes and ears… If they had power, they were tuned in.” James Ware, Reporter, KFDM CBS 6, Beaumont, TX

“(Supporting the recovery efforts) is really when it means something special and when it’s expected of broadcasters.” Scott Sparks, Air Personality and Music Director, KHPT 106.9 “The Eagle,” Houston, TX

Many thanks once again to Media Arts Professor Scott Hodgson from the University of Oklahoma and Chandra Clark, professor of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. Scott and Chandra, along with their students, compiled extensive footage and conducted more than 45 interviews for a video account of broadcasters’ heroic efforts in covering this devastating storm.

Previously released videos in the series include a feature on broadcasters’ response to tornadoes that struck Joplin, MO and Tuscaloosa, AL; the second film documented broadcast coverage of Superstorm Sandy; and the third video examined broadcasters’ lifeline role as deadly tornadoes ripped through Moore, OK.