Would the public be better served if Hawaii Public Radio enjoyed that official status, too? We think so. HPR’s two stations – KHPR and KIPO, both FM stations – already are the state’s undisputed leaders in public affairs programming. Stepping up to emergency broadcaster status seems only logical.
First Things First
HPR’s leadership already has done a fine job upgrading its capabilities, including the recent increase in KIPO’s transmitting power. But the job is far from done; both stations were off the air Friday night, so getting to emergency broadcaster status will take a lot more work. Emergency stations have to stay on the air during emergencies!
General Manager Michael Titterton told a Hawaii Media Council audience last year that “some things just have to be done” to ensure HPR’s stations can operate in a power outage. So as a community, we could get behind HPR to help them achieve that critical first step and then move on to emergency broadcaster status.
News Orientation Needed
KSSK’s emergency coverage doesn’t come close to “journalism.” HPR is all about news and fact-finding, and you have to believe its on-air reporters would have been probing for information on how the outage was affecting critical communities and seeking answers about what (obviously) failed on HECO’s system for the entire island to go dark. As it was, KSSK’s team virtually attacked callers who asked questions of their own. (“Don’t you understand, sir? This is an ISLAND! We’re not connected to a bigger grid! Maybe you should just go back to Ohio….” and so on.)
Another consideration: HPR’s stations are commercial-free, so there’d be no temptation or motivation for the public station to provide kid-glove treatment to a company experiencing a crisis (utilities included) if that company is an advertiser.
We haven’t had time to check into whether some kind of financial subsidy is available to emergency broadcast outlets, but it’s worth looking into to assist HPR with upgrades to its facilities.
Anybody out there feel the same as we do here at CHORE? Feel free to add your comment below; you can be “anonymous” or sign your name.
It's about time for the public interest to come first in emergency broadcasting.