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Old September 19th 03, 08:57 PM
Mike Terry
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Default Thank heaven for good old-fashioned radio.

By LARRY BONKO, The Virginian-Pilot
© September 19, 2003 | Last updated 8:29 PM Sep. 18

Thank heaven for good old-fashioned radio.

With the approach of Hurricane Isabel on Thursday morning, power was lost in
thousands of homes in Hampton Roads -- thousands of television-owning

That meant no Triple Doppler TV forecasts and no updates from The Weather
Channel, which had dispatched Mike Seidel to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront
as early as Wednesday evening.

How did TV-deprived Hampton Roads keep up with the storm and the damage it
was inflicting? R-A-D-I-O.

As early as 4 a.m. Thursday morning, AM radio station WNIS was on the air
with reports of the storm's approach. Later on Thursday morning, when the
electricity cut off, local radio stations joined with the three Hampton
Roads television stations (WAVY, WVEC and WTKR) to get the story out to
residents with battery-equipped radios.

WVEC's storm coverage was heard on WCMS-FM and WWSO-FM.

``Let's go now to Channel 13's coverage . . .''

WAVY's live team reporting was fed to WNOR-FM and four other stations. WTKR
had hooked up with WKOC-FM.

About 2 p.m., WAVY weather reporter Don Slater, aware that he was speaking
to a large radio audience, began to provide talking pictures of windswept
scenes that residents could not see.

``I realize that a lot of you are listening to us on the radio,'' he said.

Jeff Lawson on WVEC also became a TV meteorologist-turned-radio-reporter.

``Don't forget that we're under a tornado watch . . .''

Channel 10 reporter Patty Culhane was heard by radio listeners describing
the stormy scene at the Oceanfront as ``getting uglier and uglier.''

Most of us had to picture it. It was theater of the mind.

At WWDE-FM, program director Don London said the staff was aware that TV
signals might be lost and radio would become the eyes and ears of storm

``Led by our old warhorse, Dick Lamb, we were prepared to pass along updates
and information with no hype,'' London said.

On WAVY late Wednesday night, Slater had outlined the projected path of
Isabel, saying, ``Tomorrow will not be a fun day.''

It was indeed a horrid day, but made less so by the merging of radio and

Reach Larry Bonko at or call 446-2486.

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