Topic: Disaster Relief and Recovery AUDIO
When summer rainfall totaled five times the average and resulted in record-breaking flooding, KWON-AM in Bartlesville, Okla., immediately began providing critical assistance to its town of 40,000. With homes and roads underwater, listeners needed up-to-date and immediate information. During the cresting flood waters, the news director, general manager and Web master camped out on the station floor, answering calls and providing continual updates. The station broadcast and rebroadcast road closures, emergency numbers and disaster resource information. When flood waters threatened to spilt the city in half, the KWON mobile unit parked on the side of the river opposite the studio so listeners could continue to receive news about both sides of Bartlesville. For more than a week, the Washington County Emergency Team, of which the station is a member, gathered to strategize relief efforts. The station let listeners know how to safely re-enter flooded buildings, clean up contaminated structures and where to get bottled water. Business closures and event cancellations were constantly updated. One woman said KWON broadcast information about the closure of her office before she received the corporate email. All on-air information was posted simultaneously on the station Web site, and the station produced a tutorial to help those who were not Internet savvy. KWON has earned the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters’ Non-Metro Station of the Year award four out of the last seven years and believes the coverage of the flood to be its "strongest moment."