A Devon radio station went into back-up mode as presenters were stuck at home, whilst out-of-town Heart provided extra local content.
Radio Exe’s Sunday breakfast presenter Mike Harwood failed to arrive for his show because of the heavy flooding across Devon, and even station Managing Director Paul Nero was unavailable to attend the studios.
It meant the station went silent, eventually kicking in with the pre-recorded back-up disc before weekday breakfast show presenter Ben Clark could make it into the Exeter studios.
Radio Exe’s MD Paul Nero says: “Once we could get on air, our news service was exemplary – everything local radio should be. At a time when our major competitor in the city was broadcasting from London, we had comprehensive news, traffic and travel information for Exeter, Mid and East Devon. However, we’ll look very carefully at the audience response this weekend. You never know: our listeners may prefer the computer to the presenters.”
Over at Heart, programmes were presented from London during Sunday morning but extra local links were played out from the capital. A Heart spokesperson told us: “From Saturday evening onwards during network shows, Heart delivered local news, weather and travel to the specific areas affected by the flooding and bad weather, including Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. This was in addition to the local news and updates broadcast during the regional Sunday afternoon shows from 12pm.
“In response to the unprecedented weather in the south west, Heart Devon & Cornwall opted out of Sunday’s Vodafone Big Top 40 to broadcast an extra local show until 10pm, hosted by Dave Luck and Carl Hughes. The programme included local news every 30 minutes and travel bulletins every 20 minutes.”
At BBC Radio Devon, extra reporters were out in the area but their main content was travel news, as Managing Editor Mark Grinnell told us: “We tried to strike a balance between keeping it in perspective with our normal schedules and presenters but adding loads of flooding updates and travel news for those impacted, we had reporters out, extending and increasing bulletins etc. The bulk of the content was travel related.”
In Cornwall, UKRD’s Pirate FM also provided extra information during the severe weather with more live programmes than normal. Group CEO William Rogers: “Programming was turned upside down to make sure everything was covered effectively and local communities were afforded full coverage of what was undoubtedly an extremely difficult situation. Presenters and the news teams worked well into the evenings bringing live reports of falling trees, blocked roads and flood hit areas.”
And at community radio station Bay FM, they stayed till 4am Sunday morning with live and local programming online. Station Manager Andy Green told RadioToday.co.uk “The response was amazing considering we’re only online at the moment, our FM service launching in March next year is going to be vital during conditions like these.”
Exmouth Councillor Steve Gazzard said: “Many thanks to Bay FM for their excellent up-to-date bulletins; this shows everyone what a Community Radio Station is all about, roll on their FM launch in March”.
Let us know your experience of local radio coverage if your area has been hit by floods.