First Informers: Hurricanes Florence and Michael

NAB and the Broadcast Education Association are pleased to present the sixth 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 Florence and Hurricane Michael, which devasted the Carolinas, Florida Panhandle and other parts of the southeastern United States in September and October 2018. The storms caused massive evacuations, billions of dollars in property damage and sustained hardship for residents of those areas.

Florence brought catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas in late September, setting records for rainfall and flooding in both states. One month later, Hurricane Michael struck with winds up to 155 mph, making it the strongest storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle.

Presented for the first time yesterday in Washington, D.C. at NAB’s State Leadership Conference, this mini-documentary features dramatic footage of the devastation and examples of broadcasters’ valiant efforts to provide life-saving emergency information and community assistance.

Interviews with dozens of broadcasters demonstrate their dedication to journalism and commitment to serving communities, particularly in times of emergency:

“We went from 30 minutes to being on air for 24 hours. Not for one day, not just for two, but for a whole week.” – Sandy Marin, Multimedia Journalist/Anchor, WUVC Univision 40 – Raleigh, NC

“It was one of those moments where you really dig down deep and realize this job is much bigger than me. I am here as a vessel, so to speak, to get this information out and…help people stay alive…” – Valentina Wilson, Anchor, Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s WCTI ABC 12 – New Burn, NC

“When a disaster hits, you view your audience like your family. These are the people that you’ve met [and] it’s your job to [deliver] the information to them that they need.” – Crystal Legends, Operations Manager, Dick Broadcasting’s WRNS 95.1 — New Bern, NC

“No doubt in my mind, we literally saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But also, we had to stay behind and broadcast. As broadcasters, someone had to be behind the microphone, giving that life-saving, vital information.” – Dr. Shane Collins, Show Host, iHeart Media’s 92.5 WPAP – Panama City, FL

“I told the community, ‘wherever you are, we are just going to stay with you, we are going to stay calm with you, we’re going to talk you through this, as it’s happening, to the best of our abilities.’” – Donna Bell, News Director, Gray Television’s WJHG NBC 7 – Panama City, FL

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 dozens of interviews for a video account of broadcasters’ heroic efforts in covering Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

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. The most recent videos focused on broadcasters’ coverage of Hurricane Harvey (Texas) and Hurricane Irma (Florida).