Radio Scilly, along with many other radio stations hit by recent severe weather conditions has broadcast non-stop coverage of the storm, keeping listeners aware of developing conditions.
Twenty-eight miles off the coast of Cornwall, Radio Scilly has only two full-time members of staff and, to make matters worse, one of those was stuck on the mainland where planes were grounded. However, the station was able to put into force their detailed plan for reacting to these kind of situations with emergency programming introduced at 7pm on Sunday.
The station’s coverage of the storms began on Saturday afternoon when Council Emergency Planning Officer, Dr Vic Heaney appealed for sandbags. The islands’ Authority does not issue them and there was no means of bringing them from the mainland. Builders working on the new quay at St Martins heard the radio request and sent a pallet load on the inter-island boats for distribution on St Mary’s the main island.
Keri Jones spent Sunday afternoon with Council Staff preparing for the coverage for the Monday morning by setting up weather watchers and reports for the morning with 30 key personnel and listeners in key vantage points whom he could call.
As soon as that was arranged, the station began rolling interviews offering advice on preparation for the storm from 7-10pm Sunday. The audio was uploaded direct from the Emergency Planning Office into the station’s automation system.
Radio Scilly went live an hour early at 6am Monday with Coastguard, Police and Council staff filing into the studio to update information as the high tide approached. By 7.30am, the station was broadcasting continuous speech programming. The station mixed live eyewitness reports from all five islands with pre-recorded advisory pieces and content featuring islanders reminiscing over previous storms.
Radio Scilly’s mainland partners, Atlantic FM offered a 3 minute overview of problems in Cornwall and Radio Scilly reciprocated with updates from the islands for broadcast on the Cornish commercial stations.
Keri Jones said he was exhausted after his marathon broadcast but satisfied. He told RadioToday.co.uk: "When you get calls from friends and neighbours who have been flooded you know how radio can really make a difference. An elderly listener called saying she was alone and frightened because her guttering was about to come off. Within 1 minute of our broadcast a local decorator was at her front door offering to help. Community radio should make a difference and I know we are."
Keri says that he received possibly the most meaningful compliment of his career. Guest House owner Lesley Jones battled through the force 11 winds this morning to bring me a bottle of his favourite beer.
What has your station done during the storms? Let us know via [email protected]