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Showing posts from December, 2008

Community Needs an Alternative to KSSK; Hawaii Public Radio Could Grow into Role

Let’s shift the focus to how emergency broadcasting can be improved and away from KSSK‘s marginal performance during Friday night’s island-wide power outage. Clear Channel’s apparent “entertainment first” philosophy – even during emergencies – poorly serves the public, as many are concluding. (See “comments” beneath stories in the daily papers and in Comments added to our Saturday and Sunday posts, below.) Update: Today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial also criticizes KSSK for its performance during the outage. 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 i

‘Masters of Disaster' Seem Pleased with Their Performance Despite Obvious Shortcomings

Most of the questions in yesterday’s post were directed at Clear Channel, the owner of several radio stations on Oahu, including KSSK-AM, a designated emergency broadcaster. The questions implied criticism of the response by some first responders. Columnist Lee Cataluna in today’s Advertiser shows we’re not alone in thinking the response should have been better. As Cataluna notes, KSSK’s response to the outage was initially anchored by Mike Buck, a talk show host on KHVH, another Clear Channel station. We also were impressed by Buck’s businesslike handling of the emergency – straightforward, fact-based and relatively little nonsense. But that changed within an hour when the weekday morning drive time team of Michael W. Perry and Larry Price took over. Fom that moment on, it might as well have been Tuesday. Perry and Price deserve accolades as radio entertainers. Their show’s ratings – like that of the legendary “ J. Akuhead Pupul e” before them on Cec Heftel’s KGMB-AM – are a

Questions re Oahu Island-Wide Blackout, e.g. ‘What Is the Emergency Broadcaster’s Role?’

The December 26-27 power outage that affected all of Oahu lasted about 15 hours at our house, longer than many neighborhoods but shorter than others. The post-incident analysis has yet to begin, so we’ll confine ourselves to asking some questions. Questions for Hawaiian Electric Q: How is it that a lightning strike at the Kahe power plant on the Waianae Coast – if that was the cause – could knock out the entire grid? Q: Since the islands are isolated from other grids, what measures have been designed into the system to guard against what happened last night? Q: Why didn’t the system isolate the problem at the Kahe plant and preserve the viability of the Waiau and downtown Honolulu plants? Q: Why did measures fail that presumably were designed into the system to prevent such an eventuality? Q: Were circuit breakers timed to react quickly enough to isolate Kahe and protect the rest of the grid? (That was the cause of the island-wide power outage on “ Black Wednesday ” -- July 13, 19

Oahu Ops Center Was Closed at Storm’s Peak

The Advertiser coverage of yesterday’s major storm includes the observation that “city emergency management officials reached between 4 and 6 a.m. appeared caught off guard by the extent of problems stacking up island-wide.” The Emergency Operations Center wasn’t opened until three hours after heavy rain began pounding Oahu and the weather service issued a flash flood warning. The story includes officials’ rationale that all such warnings don’t necessarily trigger a full-on response due to budget and other constraints. Nevertheless, most citizens undoubtedly would rather have officials on the job as water 4 feet deep flooded their homes and neighborhoods. As the saying goes, “you never learn less,” and maybe Oahu officials have learned something from this experience. A page one story that contrasts their response with that of Kauai, which opened its operations center two hours earlier, can be a good teaching point.