BBG: Hurricane Sandy Fails To Stop VOA Broadcasts

Though this press release rightfully focuses on the staff at VOA headquarters in DC, we should take our hats off to the good folks that kept the Edward R. Murrow Transmission site running in North Carolina as well.

(Source: BBG)

Pounding rain and 80 mile an hour winds from Hurricane Sandy shut down U.S. government offices and the Washington, D.C. public transportation Monday and Tuesday, but it didn’t stop VOA journalists, technicians and support personnel from delivering news around the world in 43 languages.

“We had people sleep on couches around the building, and one used a cot, but the cots are not very comfortable,” English Branch Chief Terry Wing says.  “Some folks came in early on Monday, some stayed late, a couple are still here, I think some are going on 30 hours or more.”

VOA Director David Ensor says every show aired on schedule.  “It was extraordinary, hundreds of programs went out, we never missed a beat.”  Ensor says many language services provided constant updates to network affiliate stations around the world.

Executive Editor Steve Redisch says, “The Spanish Branch did more than 50 live shots to affiliates in Latin America and had a reporter on the New Jersey beach. The Russian Service was on with their affiliate, and the Indonesian Service filed for 20 radio and TV affiliates.”  Redisch says those are just some examples of what went on during the storm.

Newsroom Deputy Managing Editor David Jones, who spent the night at a nearby hotel, says it was all hands on deck.  “People were great.  We had TV and radio packages on the weather, and our political reporter did a story on how the hurricane affected the campaign, but most of our coverage was international — the fighting in Syria, Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton’s trip to the Balkans, the Ukrainian Election, and   there was something on South African politics,” Jones says.

Executive Editor Redisch says there was a lot of resourcefulness.  The French-to-Africa Service found a French speaking meteorologist at the National Weather Service, and the Mandarin Service TV show was anchored by an alternate who borrowed clothes so she could host the program.

While VOA journalists were hunkered down in Washington, videographer Daniela Schrier managed to capture something that nobody else had, footage of flood waters rushing through streets of Lower Manhattan Monday night.  Schrier, who was trapped in her apartment in New York’s East Village, managed to upload the video to Washington just before she lost power.

VOA broadcasts more than 1,700 hours of radio and television programming around the world each week from its headquarters in Washington.  The programs are delivered on satellite, cable, shortwave, AM, FM, the Internet and on a worldwide network of affiliate stations.

Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station: re-dedication videos

Last week, we noted the upcoming re-dedication of the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station and the significance of this particular broadcasting location.

Videos of the event have now been posted on the BBG Watch website, including this one, which features the original dedication of the site in 1963:

Local CBS affiliate, Channel 9, provided raw video feeds from the event, which are also posted.  Of particular note is the footage of Governor Victor Ashe’s speech and the tour of the station.

Victor Ashe:

Station tour:

As I previously mentioned, in December 2012, I had the honor of receiving a five-hour tour of the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station. Following that marvelous tour, I  wrote a piece for the March 2012 issue of the Monitoring Times in which I describe the day’s experiences; the article has already received many kind comments (thanks!) and continues to draw interest to the station. I think this may be one of the best articles I’ve ever written, and the clear reason for this was my sheer delight in the tour, a dream come true for me.  Moreover, I had early information about the re-dedication of the site, and was immensely pleased that  those who work there should receive such well-deserved accolades.

BTW:  While I have a busy travel schedule this summer, I intend to publish some items of interest in my absence that I’ve been saving for the purpose. This will include the article I wrote for the MT–the full, un-cut version–along with dozens of hi-res photos from the site. It’s quite long, thus will be posted in manageable sections; each post will be tagged: VOA Greenville. Keep an eye open for those!

But if you just can’t wait, you can always download an electronic version of the March issue on the MT’s website.  Hope you enjoy it…!

And to our good friends at VOA Greenville:  thanks again, and congratulations!