The National Association of Broadcasters, the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, and a bevy of other groups are donating 10,000 battery-powered radios to Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, other groups are donating resources to broadcasters on the island that have been knocked off the air.
With no end in sight for the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, the radio industry is putting its best foot forward to help the folks on the ground.
This week, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, and a number of U.S. broadcasters announced they would fund the donation of 10,000 battery-operated radios to Puerto Rico, with the goal of providing information for those in need.
The battery-operated radios could prove an important resource, as just 16 percent of the island currently has power weeks after Hurricane Maria caused dramatic damage.
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith emphasized that the situation underlines radio’s role “as a lifeline to communities desperate for information and support.”
“Our fellow Americans in the Caribbean now face a once-in-a-generation humanitarian crisis, and radio is one of the only communications resources available,” Smith said in a news release. “We admire the resolve of our friends in Puerto Rico and are proud to undertake this effort with help from FEMA to keep citizens safe and informed.”
The idea for the initiative came from Florida Association of Broadcasters President and CEO, Pat Roberts, who has helped coordinate the delivery of these radios to the island.
Radio World reports that the devices being delivered to the island are QFX model R-9 radios, a model sold for $9.99 online that has the ability to pick up AM, FM, and shortwave signals. In comments to the news outlet, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton noted that the ability to get a large number of radios to the island quickly was an important factor behind the decision.
“We don’t want to have to wait weeks or months to get these in the hands of Puerto Ricans,” Wharton added.
Locally, the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association welcomed the move, with the group’s board president, Raul Santiago Santos, adding in a statement, “Having local radio in the hands of our citizens will make a real and positive difference for our people.”
The donation effort isn’t the only way that the broadcast industry is helping the island with its long recovery. Current reports that the Alaskan nonprofit CoastAlaska is donating equipment to the public radio station WIPR-FM to help it get back its signal after its main broadcasting tower was destroyed in the storm. Meanwhile, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is working to get communications equipment to broadcasters in need.