Old-fashioned terrestrial radio's unique role during and after natural calamities was shown in bold last week in tornado-torn Tuscaloosa, Ala., both on the ground at the site of the disaster, and in Seattle where The Ron & Don Nation unknowingly gave truck-loads... to possible "illegal aliens."
In Tuscaloosa, many residents lost power and were unable charge cell phones, or turn on computers. Battery-operated and car radios became their only form of communication in demolished neighborhoods.
Calls for help came in immediately to right-wing radio stations (there are no other in Tuscaloosa). Tuscaloosa Clear Channel stations pre-empted Rush, Hannity and top 40 songs to serve as a relief clearinghouse through simulcasts. Jocks worked gruelling 10-hours shifts connecting givers and victims and providing a opportunity to exchange information.
"The bottom line is that here the people that we are talking to on air are the people that have no homes. They have no home, they have no phone service. They have no television. Nothing except the radio." Gigi South, the local market manager for Tuscaloosa Clear Channel told The Wall Street Journal.
Locally, KIRO's infatigable Ron & Don (m-f3-7p) collected clothing, and household goods sending two truckfuls, and gal-pal Rachel "Omigod!" Belle to the disaster area.
Rachel, who expected to get some audio from grateful recipients found that the churches pre-arranged to distribute the stuff were "totally" concerned "totally" with the hard-hit Hispanic population. There was no sound to be gotten for generous Seattle listeners because the grateful recients spoke no English. (Apparently "gracias," wouldn't work).
Hearing that population was served by the Seattle's generosity warms our liberal hearts, but one listener wrote the show's blog to demand that only "legal aliens" receive the goods he had so generously given. Don O'Neill said he told the listener where he could shove his "generosity" and deleted the comment from the show-blog.