The sign at the edge of town says “A Small School Of Distinction”.
We simply called it, a distinctly small school.
Bethany College is nestled into the the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
You don’t find it by accident.
The student body was about 1,000 strong and somewhat larger during Friday night fraternity keggers in the 70s.
We liked our beer. So did our neighbors at West Liberty State just down Route 88.
I went to Bethany because my uncle did and it was eight hours from the watchful eyes of my parental guidance.
Bethany had a radio station. The ten watt signal barely made it to that sign at the edge of town.
WVBC was my laboratory for four years.
It was there I learned the importance of programming for the local community.
WVBC had a talent line up that could rival most major market stations.
Ok, we weren’t ready for prime time, but most went on to great careers.
Here are a few.
Dave Sims does play by play for the Seattle Mariners and a show on XM.
Chris Moore hosts talk shows on Fox Sports Radio and has been with ESPN, the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers.
Blaise Howard is General Manager of WBEB Philadelphia.
Bob Orr is a Washington Correspondent for CBS Evening News.
Kurt Franck told me every morning how he would win the Pulitzer Prize. He did at the Toledo Blade.
Faith Daniels had a different last name then. Faith did news for WVBC and later was part of NBC’s Today Show.
Toriah Tolley, (Tory to us) anchored for several years on CNN.
Many others worked in television, radio, and newspapers and are names you know.
So it was with this band of merry makers we learned the ropes of radio.
Years later, after dealing with a local near disaster someone asked where I learned to handle such a thing.
The answer was easy, WVBC.
It was a cold rainy Saturday afternoon in November when the power went out.
Our General Manager, Jim Humes gathered as many of us as he could find and headed to the WVBC transmitter.
The transmitter was in the basement of Old Main. It was an unpleasant place, especially without lights and heat.
Somehow we managed to rig a small studio. We had a mike and a turntable and found a way to get the transmitter back on air.
We spent hours on-air reporting what we knew about the situation.
Over the years I’d flashback to that day whenever there was an emergency situation. Days like when I was at WLW and the Space Shuttle blew up or we had a major blizzard at WSYR Syracuse.
The afternoon at Old Main taught me the importance of an emergency plan for any station.
Today it is tougher than ever to handle local emergencies. Newsrooms are small or non-existent. Often available staff does not have proper training.
The time to think about the ‘what ifs’, is long before they occur.
I suggest you take time to think about how you would handle a serious situation.
9/11 was a good drill, but years have passed and people have forgotten much about it.
There will be another day when you are faced with split second decisions.
Think about who you’d call in to work. How you would get them to the station. What you would need to do to make sure you served the public and made sure your community is safe.
Involve your staff in the planning.
It is never too early to think about your emergency plan.