Remembering the Night of Hurricane Sandy
Superstorm Sandy left the Jersey Shore in shambles five years ago and made what we do on the radio every day more important than ever. The days following Sandy are some of my proudest on air.
My goal when you listen to my show is to entertain you. I want to take your mind off work, even life, and help you enjoy (or better tolerate) the ride home. It can be as simple as playing a song you like to a round of The Nearly Impossible Question. Ultimately, if I can get you to crack a smile or chuckle on the way home...my job is complete. Five years ago, everything changed.
The Point's new studios were in the process of being built when Sandy hit and we sharing a facility (a small shack in the woods) with three other radio stations. Things were a bit chaotic already.
Just about everyone at The Point was watching the forecast closely. We were doing our best to pass along information and not panic people. From the get-go, the forecast didn't look good. But none of us knew just how bad it was going to be.
Most of the air staff decided to stay at the station overnight. Space was tight, to say the least. I ended up sleeping on the desk in my office. Laurie Cataldo slept on the other side of my desk and our friend Andy Chase from our sister station 105.7 The Hawk slept in a chair in the office.
None of us got much sleep as the howling wind going through the radio tower right outside our window was loud and a little troubling.
Lou stayed on the air overnight. As the rest of us awoke at about 3 a.m. it became clear that the situation was far worse than any of us could have imagined. Much of our audience was left without power and battery operated radios we were the only medium available to them.
There was no playbook for how to handle a disaster like this on the radio. We decided to throw out the "radio rulebook," deliver information as best as possible and speak from the heart. I distinctly remember being on the radio with Laurie Cataldo as we took calls from listeners who were in desperate need of water, ice, electricity, and gas. Others would instantly call in with real-time information on where to get resources.
For the two weeks that followed, we continued to be a continuous information hub for Monmouth and Ocean counties. Many of you said we became like family to you because all you had was your radio.
I can't tell you how proud I am of being a part of this radio station during that awful time five years ago. It will probably be the most meaningful broadcasting I will ever do.
A few days after Sandy, a respected member of the radio biz, Sean Ross, wrote an article about our coverage and titled his piece perfectly. "Great Radio You Wish To Never Hear." Here's what Sean said:
In about 90 minutes of listening, I heard:
• Afternoon host Matt Ryan telling a caller, "I think 'Extreme Makeover' should spend the next six months at the Jersey Shore."
• A listener promo that began, "Thank God for my C batteries keeping the station going," and ending with the declaration, "This is our home, this is our station."
• Matt Ryan giving the station number, but not for requests. "That number has been a lifeline for many . . . reach out for whatever you need."
Some continue to rebuild and deal with the fallout of Sandy. Just like we were five years ago, we're here for you now. Thanks for listening.
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