Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Light a fire for public radio...

Here's a discussion that Doc Searls has started that I'd like to do several posts on in the coming days....Where are you going to go for live information when a life-threatening wildfire bears down on your town? He makes a great point that we have some great radio stations in Santa Barbara but nobody is doing live news of this kind. Our NPR stations are great but don't really cover local news. KCSB covers some local news but doesn't have the resources to cover something like this fire. Radio News-Press has clearly proven to not be an option. I, for one, miss Dick Williams -- who was always there, day and night.

It's a complicated issue -- but let's start talking about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Radio NewsPress (1290 AM) is an option. There is lots of local programming. And it is informative. Some is junk, but a lot of it is not. I always keep it on as my ready radio station and it is my wake-up every morning.

I like the BBC news as well as their local headline roundup. This is being silly to cut out everything the NewsPress does, just because they do it.

But agree, I do miss John Palminteri and the gang, the old KTMS, and a really on the spot local reporter news station. How sad this is over everywhere now in the US.

Thank you Mike Towbes for buying KDB - lovely classical music when this could never survive on its own without his generous support. A tout to the local arts scene there too. Please do support their sponsors and let them know you heard about them on KDB.

7/10/2007 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the "Rancho" fire began on a week ago Saturday afternoon, I was helping a friend in the Goleta foothills. With the amount of smoke and remembering the Painted Cave fire, we were concerned! She turned on 1290, I think it was, and there were non-stop reports and we realized the fire was on the other side of Camino Cielo and likely to remain there. So, yes, radio was very important.

In general, I listen to KCLU, KCBX and sometimes KDB. I don't know there's a need for another station.

7/10/2007 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I am a bit indifferent about the public radio portion of this I do think something has to be done in terms of public safety. The smoke over the city from the 1st fire was at the least alarming to many people and while I have to commend KEYT for getting something on air, it wasnt as quick as it could have been and advising people to call 211 was a failure (unless you love busy signals).

At the same time it seemed there were no other sources of information, I flipped through the dial and got nada. We do need at least a basic emergency frequency to serve this area we can count on whether public or private. In New Orleans they lost the tv reception in most areas it was WVUE Radio that was the primary source of information. I wouldnt want to bet on Cox Cable working and the ability to get rabbit ear reception from KEYT in a emergency is doubtful (of course providing there is actually power).

If we got a decent public station in town that would be a bonus but if we can just get a trustworthy emergency communication radio I would be fine with that.

7/10/2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is 1290 sending anyone up to cover the fire, since the News-Press has had to rely on AP copy with it's shortage of reporters?

7/10/2007 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny for you to mention NP Radio. All I ever hear when I've flipped it on is Travis, COLAB, Joey A, BBC or Larry King. What local news do you actually here on there and what reporters are filing the reports?

7/11/2007 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because we have lived within or near the forest for years, we have a scanner. I find local coverage far behind what is actually going on so in order to assess the danger, the scanner is the best option.

7/11/2007 7:15 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Perhaps Jim Farr should start a local radio station instead of a Goleta newspaper... Just an idea.

7/11/2007 8:01 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

"Radio NewsPress" would be an option if:

1. They had reporters;

2. They did not omit anything said by some City Councilmembers or County Supervisors;

3. They actually would report information said by someone who first was not on their list of Cabalists, which seems to be half of the County; and

4. They had more listeners besides their own employees, which is why their ratings are considered "below the detection limit."

Nothing is silly about cutting out everything the NewsMess does. This first comment here from the infamous Anonymous, and no doubt many more to come, are yet another installment in the spin machine for friends of The Wendy to pretend that Ampersand and all of its products are just another community asset for all to enjoy, AS IF NOTHING HAS HAPPENED and still is happening.


In addition, the Blogabarbara host here needs to explain how KCSB radio "doesn't have the resources to cover something like this fire."
KCSB has live bodies trained in the FCC radio procedures to receive and announce information every hour of every day. Any Authority with information about a fire or any other emergency situation can call in or send KCSB the report and it will get read live on the radio broadcast.

Other news organizations may send their talking heads (in their for-show-only yellow fire-resistant jackets) to the field command scene of a fire, where they can be fed the same reports that those same officials can send out to a radio station studio elsewhere across the County.

Sure, a reporter closer to the incident is better than not there, but being there is not the answer to everything. The broader issue is that local radio and TV are increasingly automated with no actual butts behind the microphones. KCSB-FM 91.9 at least has that, if only The Authorities sent the information to them day or night, 24 / 7 / 365.

7/11/2007 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Radio 'news press' is a bit of a joke. Most of the so called local news for some reason seems to pertain to the greater Sacramento area. When they do have local news it is always at least a day old and many times more dated than that.
It also seems that the newscasters seem to know very little about our area. The misprenunciations and geographical mistakes are bit worse than most local media. It almost sounds like maybe the broadcast does not even originate in Santa Barbara. They had absolutley no news on the two local fires except for the News Press accounts which seem to trail the events by at least 24 hours

7/11/2007 5:25 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...


You make some good points about KCSB and no harm was intended in the sense that I love what they do! You also answered your own question in that I think it is is important to be there...and maybe there is a way for KCSB to provide that! I listen to KCSB because they do cover our local news and do a good job....there also is a way to do this where it isn't so "fire-resistant jacket" and to actually be there.

I think we forget what it was like to have a real KTMS on the scene as media has changed so much. KCSB is actually closest to that ideal...

7/11/2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

KCLU (102.3) usually has local coverage, often with some SB content, every half hour, but I don't know what their emergency coverage has been like in the past.

7/12/2007 11:03 AM  
Blogger John Quimby said...

Hi folks,

I've been a bit out of touch. I'm in Canada for the summer running a farm but I do check in on Sara and Company from time to time and you all know this is one of my hot buttons.

Fire, earthquake and sometimes even floods or train derailments are regular visitors to our town. My concern has long been the lack of emergency info especially during off peak hours in the city.

Radio is key here because most people can provide themselves with a battery powered radio in the event that the power is out for 24 hours (remember the Northridge quake?) For those without power radio is the only answer.

The 211 and 911 lines failed recently and won't work at all
for people who rely on a modern phone during a blackout. In any event, phone systems simply cannot handle the volume of calls in a real emergency.

Doc makes a spirited case for a local public station committed to local service and I applaud the idea.

There is a more direct answer and it is this:

Each and every licensed broadcaster in our area is required by the terms of their license to "serve the public interest". Providing emergency information during a life threatening situation certainly ought to qualify as a public service. Broadacsters need to be reminded that if they fail to serve the community in times of emergency they risk losing their licenses.

They simply need to staff the stations they operate to cover news after 5pm and on weekends. Currently they do not. They don't think they have to.

The FCC has decided that it has no means for deciding what public interest is. So it's up to us to define it for our local stations.

We can either wait for the city to burn and panic to ensue when no information is delivered by conventional radio or we can politely remind these companies that the public owns their licenses to do business in our city and they operate at our pleasure as a public trustee.

How ironic that in this modern communication age we're reduced to the kind of small town backwater local news coverage we might have expected decades ago. But of course back in the olden days we already had KDB and KTMS!

Tom Storke was licensed to operate KTMS in order to cover the county with local news. His application was, in part, a community response to the 1925 earthquake. He did it. KIST did it. Other local stations have done it. (Hey Dave, I listened to KCSB broadcast the IV riots and the burning of the bank.)

Where is our local news coverage now? I think it's time we asked to have it back.

Radio: you can't afford to ignore this issue any longer.

7/12/2007 8:13 PM  

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