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5/2 Blackout Blamed on Lightning Storm, but HECO Doesn’t Bother To Share Any Details

Here’s the status of emergency communications in Honolulu as revealed in the May 2 lightening-induced power outage:

KSSK, the designated emergency broadcast station, continues to entertain us with listeners’ phone calls rather than inform us with aggressive reporting, and Hawaiian Electric Company doesn’t go out of its way to inform us either.

Whereas you’d expect communications expertise to increase over the years, just the opposite is happening in Honolulu. KSSK’s on-air personalities once actually engaged spokespersons in Q&A sessions to elicit information important to listeners, but that doesn’t happen anymore. (We’ve already riffed on KSSK’s deficiencies during emergencies.)

It now appears that Clear Channel’s news center records Hawaiian Electric’s spokesperson during blackouts, and that recording is later slotted into the stations’ programming when convenient.

As late as two-plus hours after the outages began today, HECO’s recorded message was telling us what we already kne…

Keeping this Discussion Alive: Clear Channel GM Defends KSSK, Still Backs Entertainment Format

As expected, the manager of Clear Channel’s stations on Oahu defended KSSK’s performance during the recent tsunami alert in response to our commentary in Pacific Business News. (If you want more along the same line, see our January 2009 PBN commentary.)

Unfortunately, Chuck Cotton brushed us off and did so with such dispatch that he asserted something untrue in his second graf.

I haven’t called myself a journalist for decades – not since I stopped reporting for KGMB-TV. I’m a consultant, as clearly stated at the end of my PBN piece.

My status aside, what have real journalists said about KSSK’s performance during emergencies? Here’s part of an editorial published by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on December 29, 2008 that reflected on the emergency response to the island-wide power outage three days earlier:

“The designated emergency broadcast radio stations, KSSK-AM and its sister FM station, should receive credit for transmitting during the blackout.
“However, information that got on the …

KSSK Shows How Not To Do Radio – Again

“We must be doing something right” is the standard response from Clear Channel, the mega-broadcasting company that owns hundreds of radio stations across the nation, including several in Hawaii.

Clear Channel’s ratings winner is KSSK, and they're mighty proud of it, although the late Cec Heftel was more responsible for the station’s current success than anything the mainland owner has done.

Heftel’s KGMB-AM, later marketed as K59, surged to number one with Aku at the microphone, and the station has never dipped to number two since.

It isn’t KSSK’s performance during emergencies that explains why so many people tune in. It’s from habit – a habit that could use breaking when we’re in a crisis.

We’ve made this point repeatedly since the 2006 Big Island earthquakes and resulting major power outage on Oahu. KSSK’s celebrity team of Perry and Price performs differently than any broadcasters we’ve ever heard during an emergency, and we’ve heard more than a few.

That’s Entertainment

KSSK s…