We realize the relationship between high-tech and our lives becomes more frightening every time we experience a disaster. New generation Americans accept that when tragedy strikes, we simply expect to lose vital communications such as telephone and Internet provided by personal cell phone service, and also the connection to cable services that provide local television and Internet. What ever happened to broadcasting the real way: over the air?
When terrible things have happened to our community, radio was still broadcasting here. Radio galvanizes a community like no other medium. It always has and, hopefully, it always will. Hurricane Sandy is a great example of why we should be reminded to support our local radio broadcasting professionals in our town. Nothing gives comfort and security and critical information like our local radio stations do when bad times call for it.
I have been a critic of what much radio station’s programming has become. Jukebox pop noise and sophomoric humor with little else to contribute describes it. Until disaster strikes. And then, like responsible citizens do, radio steps up to do the job it is the best at. I only wish it would perform every day this way.
Why am I writing this? Because radio is having an identity crisis. And I believe that radio is headed down a path that threatens to make it a passe medium. It is our high-tech culture that has diminished radio to a non-imperative outlet to many youngsters who have only known interactive computer controlled and streaming generic media. Experience has taught us older folks that we might just one day desperately need the caring voice of a local broadcaster telling us where help is available when our community is in a really terrible situation.
The National Association of Broadcasters is working to mandate that radio receiver chips be installed in most cell phone devices that will receive broadcast stations even when cell service is out. I believe it is important. This measure has been met with resistance by competing companies such as Internet music streaming groups that suggest that there is no need for this addition to a cell phone. I believe there is proof that America is not ready to depend on the Internet or for cell phones for solid and dependable local and timely information. Even the last Memorial Day bike rallies around greater Myrtle Beach proved the local cell phone service was undependable for many due to overwhelming demand. Can you imagine the total loss of service during a severe weather calamity? Please encourage your senator to support this inexpensive addition to our cell phones.
I submit that during a local adversity, and when cell phone and Internet service is diminished or overcome, radio reception becomes the paramount standard to assist in saving our lives and galvanizing our community. Local familiar voices. Caring neighbors. Community leaders. We need to remember that broadcast radio never gets overloaded by listeners. Whether there are a hundred, a thousand, or a million listeners, radio works and serves our communities without failure. It remains a solid valuable resource to keep us safer in these times.
Finally, I only hope our local broadcasters are listening. This is a reminder to the 12 radio stations licensed to serve the local city of Myrtle Beach. Please give elevated attention to your community for a new and valid reason to support you by making continued effort to be important and vital to your town. Please do not let us down when that errant storm aims for our nose. Please make sure that the on-air voices and your important technical infrastructure is prepared to do what we expect: Provide our families with much needed radio community service.
Another hurricane is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.