Although radio and TV broadcasters collectively stand to lose hundreds of millions dollars by airing commercial-free news 24-hours-a-day throughout this week, local stations also have been raising money and holding blood drives to aid the victims of this week's terrorist attacks..
All of Hearst-Argyle's 28 stations are holding fund-raisers. In New Orleans, WDSU-TV made an impromptu decision on Wednesday to park its news truck on a corner and collect money, says news director Margaret Cordes. The station had $20,000 within the first hour. The drive was so successful that the station opened another site in front of New Orleans family grocery story Dorignac's in the Metairie district of the city. So far, it has collected more than $500,000 in cash.
"Until something like this happens, you don't realize how powerful you are and what you can do," Cordes said.
Hearst-Argyle-owned KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo., raised $500,000 for the Red Cross, with $10,000 given by the Kansas City Royals. WYFF-TV in Greenville, S.C., on Wednesday ran a mini-telethon for the American Red Cross, raising nearly $300,000.
Belo Corp. has launched a similar effort with its 17 television stations, and it has contributed $250,000 to a fund to help the American Red Cross. Belo also will match any employee contributions.
"The response has been phenomenal," says Regina Sullivan, Belo's vice president of government relations and corporate communications.
A cluster of Clear Channel radio stations in South Florida held a blood drive on Wednesday and Thursday, collecting blood from approximately 200 people until the state of Florida ran out of blood bags, says Derick Pitts, promotions director for Y-100 in Miami.
Citadel Broadcasting reports that their cluster of three radio stations in Bloomington, Illinois, has raised $149,000 for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by auctioning off American flags.
For its part, NAB teamed with the American Red Cross to produce three public service announcements asking for donations of money and blood, and a fourth that discusses maintaining mental health and coping in times of crisis.
"Time and again Americans rely on local broadcasters to provide the critical information that saves lives and offers hope to those in need," said Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross. "We . thank local radio and television stations for their unmatched commitment to public service."
NAB will distribute the PSAs to member TV and radio stations Thursday at 4:30 pm EDT and Friday at 1 pm EDT on Telstar 5C, transponder 23, downlink frequency 4160 MHz, with audio at 6.2 and 6.8. Anyone having trouble should call Interface Media Group at 202-861-0500.
In response to employee requests, the Walt Disney Co. started the DisneyHand: Survivor Relief Fund, which will match all employee donations. - Paige Albiniak