CHORE was launched in 2006 after officials responding to an earthquake emergency obviously didn't measure ups; see CHORE's earliest posts. Their performance left an opening for average citizens to weigh in with experience-based suggestions to improve crisis communications. The many deaths recorded after California's wildfires also revealed gaps in officials' ability to communicate effectively. Visitors are invited to comment with their own ideas.
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Perry and Price Are Right: They Really COULD Do Their Brand of Emergency Broadcasting from Albania
Hawaii News Now reports "live" from the Big Island; 1500 AM on Oahu delivered the goods on Iselle with the HNN simulcast.
designated emergency broadcaster, KSSK, did what it said it would do – move its
market-leading broadcast personalities to Las Vegas the day before Hurricane
Iselle was expected to hit the islands. You can read about that decision here.
so many respects, KSSK’s emergency broadcast role in August 2014 mirrors how
the station performed after the October 2006 Big Island earthquakes (here, and here), how it
performed after the December 2008 island-wide power outage and on other occasions,
most of which are chronicled at CHORE (such as here, here,here and here).
nutshell, there’s nothing in KSSK’s approach to emergency broadcasting to
suggest it knows how to respect the emergency. And here’s the proof:
7:30 a.m. Newscast on August 8, 2014 – about five hours after Hurricane Iselle
arrived on the Big Island.
Iraq ISIS attacks status
FAA orders airlines to avoid Iraq airspace
Verdict expected on 9/11 in the Oscar Pistorius trial (includies background)
World Health Organization declares ebola international health risk
Street – gold price, oil price, 10-year bond yield, DOW average
Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. report noting the storm is “heading
HELCO power outage report from the Big Island
Geothermal power plant hydrogen sulfide leak – and a description of how the gas
smells (for at least the third time this morning)
Hurricane Julio 5 a.m. location report
Red Cross emergency shelters opened at 10 last night; 577 people
trash service today, no bulky item pickup.
State and City and County employees told to stay home
Shopping Centers closed
Zippy restaurants closed at five locations
open, harbors closed
For a list of closures, visit KSSK.com
Perry thanks everyone for doing a great job
Mayor Caldwell thanks P&P for “all the information you’re getting out to
your listening audience.”
that useful information, Mr. Mayor, or just talk? Keep in mind that the hurricane (downgraded to tropical storm after landfall) was still impacting the Big Island at the time
of the newscast (at least a foot of rain had fallen in some locations we learn
elsewhere on the radio dial), and its effects are being felt on other islands,
including Oahu. So listeners just tuning in presumably want to know one thing
and one thing only: What’s happening with Hurricane Iselle?
how a broadcast journalism professor might critique this KSSK newscast:
What would it take for the Perry & Price show to alter its format? First
comes the national and international news, then the financial news and then the
local news. It’s been forever so, from one emergency situation to the next, and
it’s now been reaffirmed that not even a hurricane is enough to change the
KSSK is a designated emergency broadcast channel. Therefore, KSSK has a
responsibility to communicate meaningfully during emergencies to its listeners.
It doesn’t do that when it de-emphasizes the local emergency in favor of
mundane news reports from far away. The Oscar Pistorius trial verdict? In
The majority of the newscast’s storm-related news was available a day earlier –
shopping center closures, bus schedules, schools, non-essential city and state
workers, trash pickup. In other words, these reports were not “news.” They were
old status reports read as news on the station.
Unanswered questions: What are the damage particulars on the Big Island? How
much rain has fallen? Are there any injuries? The Big Island is big, so what
are conditions like in Hilo, Waimea, South Point and Kona – all roughly
representing the island’s compass points? What about Maui, Lanai and Molokai? What
What’s the latest forecast for TS Iselle over the next 12 hours? Is it raining
hard anywhere? Is the surf dangerous? Are lifeguards warning residents and
tourists to stay out of the water? What is going on here?
not alone in our assessment of this emergency broadcaster’s repeated failures
to react appropriately during emergencies. After crediting KSSK for being on
the air with emergency generation after the 2008 event, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorialized:
“However, information that got on the air was
frequently incomplete, misleading or contradictory. The on-air staff members
were unable to separate crucial duties in an emergency from their usual
drive-time, talk-show format.
not to say a touch of lightheartedness has no place in such a situation; it can
help ease listeners' tensions. But the hosts at times became abusive or mocked
callers who sought advice or help for problems the hosts deemed minor under the
one instance a caller who criticized Hawaiian Electric Co. - which shrewdly
sent a public relations representative to the station early on - was scorned as
someone who probably voted for Democrats.
such nonsensical remarks can be shrugged off, the primary problem with the
broadcast was that the station's staff worked passively. Instead of seeking
information from authorities, the station simply waited for them to call in.
And when they did call, the staff did not ask astute questions to clarify or
expand on the condition.”
KSSK’s emergency broadcast performance is a recurring problem for Hawaii
listeners who tune in to Perry and Price out of habit – not because they're served well during emergencies. We say it again: Residents deserve better than they’re
getting on KSSK.
Fortunately, they do get better storm coverage on the radio – especially at 1500 AM, the NBC
Sports Radio station that simulcasts the Hawaii News Now television coverage during emergencies.
It’s essentially non-stop storm news, and the HNN team is an infinitely better source of essential
information residents can actually use.
Northern California wildfires raged on during the September 12-13 weekend, and newspapers duly reported on more warning failures: San Francisco Chronicle: “Wildfire warning systems by text, email, cell phone alert or reverse 911 call can’t always reach everyone in remote areas where coverage isn’t available, or when power or service cuts off. And sometimes, as happened in this season’s lightning-sparked blazes, the system can’t keep up with the speed and unpredictability of wildfires. Officials with Cal Fire confirmed that there was no evacuation warning for Last Chance, and that the evacuation order came just after 10 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies had no time to go door to door.” Let that last bit sink in: “Sheriff’s deputies had no time to go door to door. ” Is that really the alert protocol when cell phone notifications fail? Deputies go door to door? San Francisco Chronicle: As soon as Cal Fire sent word of the imminent danger, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea sent out an evacuation war
CHORE has really let it slide this summer. We’re average only one post a month during hurricane season, a tipoff we’ve pretty much moved on and beyond the communications failures during and after Earthquake Sunday. Trouble is, so has everyone else, and there’s been virtually zero follow-up by the news media in recent months on how or whether October’s communications deficiencies have been corrected. We may not have the answers to all the questions that have been posted here at CHORE until the next emergency, which is not a comforting feeling. If all the radio and TV stations stay on the air during the next major power outage, we’ll know the stations’ staffs have done a responsible job in fixing their problems. If they go to dead air, we’ll be the losers then and there. COSME Comes Calling Tropical Depression Cosme, a one-day hurricane earlier this week, has winds estimated at 30 knots this afternoon that could strengthen to minimal tropical storm intensity as it approaches the
California’s deadliest wildfire tore through the town of Paradise two years ago on November 8. The Camp Fire killed 85 people and left thousands displaced and grieving for their paradise, lost in the forests of Northern California. I’ve been campaigning here at CHORE for improved wildfire alerts since even before that fire’s well-documented failures (archived site loads slowly), and I’ve generally avoided using the “I” word in these posts. This campaign isn’t about attracting attention to myself. But – I do have the kind of hands-on emergency communications experience that appears lacking in far too many California officials charged with emergency response. My September 21 post strongly hinted at what hands-on proactivity looks like in calling for “a new way of thinking, of taking action, of shouldering personal responsibility to save lives.” Learned Lessons Lost Hurricane Iwa struck Hawaii in November 1982 and quickly forced me and the rest of Hawaiian Electric Company’s cor