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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Thumbs Up" to listeners of WION! "Thumbs down" to Emergency officials!

Emergency?  or just "another event?"

YOU decide.

Last week, with just hours to go before the first-ever "Wizard of Oz" festival in downtown Ionia, a construction crew hit a gas line, which, in turn, caused the "evacuation" of at least one city block full of businesses near the noon hour, visitors, and those preparing for the festival.

A huge THANK YOU and "thumbs up" goes to our listeners who alerted WION to this situation, which allowed WION to beat ALL the news media with a live report from Consumers' Energy about the situation, it's repair time, and estimated time that residents and businesses could return to their normal activities.  WION's report was quoted in much 'larger' media which made their jobs easier, and...being IN Ionia, we had the info as it happened, where out-of-town media had to come here, find the people with whom to talk, and then get their reports back to the "big city."

This blog, however is not meant to say, "we did it first." It's meant to compliment our listeners on tipping us off to the need for information which we provided!  At the same time, the finger of shame points in the direction of any and all City or County officials charged with the handling of emergencies for ZERO contact with a live, local media right here in town!  (WION). Just as in the January prison escape, City and County officials took NO action to notify WION, yet...even without a fulltime news department, we had the situation covered and calmly brought you information and even some "appropriate for the situation" music. (songs with "dig", "flow", "pipeline" and other words or names in them...just for fun while on the air "live" with credible information.) 

WHY should local officials contact WION with local emergencies? Well, for one, we're the quickest local media!  Even if the evacuated businesses couldn't be near their in-store/in-office radios, they could use smart-phones to hear WION's information with our free APPS!  This isn't the 1970's...WION reaches the WORLD now, at any given time. As I write this, our afternoon show is being enjoyed In Tawas City, Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids, Chesepeake, VA, and Southfield, MI just to name a few locations that are tuned-in via the web or phones. It's simple. Radio is a medium you can HEAR while driving, walking, working,  or even evacuating. You don't have to "read" radio!

Our local officials seem to believe that Facebook is the save-all for their poorly-run  P.R. departments.  Facebook does NOT reach people driving TO Ionia, or anyone driving, period!  It doesn't reach busy business people who are tuned-in while actually WORKING,  it doesn't reach businesses where the I-T department BLOCKS Facebook, and it doesn't reach clients of our local businesses who are shopping, or in waiting rooms, or doing business with any of our OVER 125 LISTENING IONIA BUSINESSES.

What will it take for our local city and county officials to realize that MASS COMMUNICATIONS is best achieved via local radio?   We've seen what happens in storm-related emergencies....cell towers fail, power goes out, and cable/DSL is worthless.  What's here 24/7 for YOU, our community? WION Radio.  We INVESTED in this town a decade ago by moving our lives here, and improving WION beyond any owner's effort to date.  We STAFF around the clock in emergencies. We are NOT the "enemy" and we don't act like TV-8 and other media in G.R. who's only apparent goal is to make Ionia look like the butt of the world by covering only BAD news.  Did you notice that the TV media was here on Friday, but didn't do ANYTHING to talk about our new Wizard of Oz festival, even though they were already in-town? We, at WION, on the other hand are LOCAL people who want our town safe, informed, and "in touch" when emergencies demand it.

Oh, and yes, Friday was an "emergency." In case you're too busy to look it up, "Evacuation" is defined as follows: evacuation is the immediate and urgent movement of people away from the threat or actual occurrence of a hazard. Examples range from the small scale evacuation of a building due to a storm or fire to the large scale evacuation of a district because of a flood, bombardment or approaching weather system.

Please take a moment to urge your City and County of Ionia officials to stop relying solely  on "social media" for emergencies. It's obvious our listeners who called us with tips about Friday's "gaseous situation"  care more about mass-notification via radio than our local officials, and this HAS TO END. You saw this happen during a prison break, and it happened again last Friday, June 22nd.

TEN YEARS of service to this city and this county deserves better treatment by officials. We're here to help. We raise money for charities. We raise money for Bertha Brock Park's improvement fund each year at Fallfest time.  We help Big Brothers/Big Sisters with donations from our advertisers.  We broadcast from the Ionia Freefair. We're the ones who STARTED the County-Wide Food Drive.  Once again this year we're actively raising money for Ionia's Relay for Life.   Every year for the past 4 we've picked a charity at Christmastime,  and given-away 100 percent of proceeds from our locally produced radio play of "A Christmas Carol."  We run public service announcements for non-profits around the clock.  Simply put, we give back more to community than any other local media.

The bottom line is this: In an age where broadcasters seldom take their service to the public seriously, WION has never varied from it's commitment to you, for entertainment, information, and in emergencies. WION cannot, however serve you, if the chain of information is broken before it gets to our studios.  As we often tell people with regard to their community events, "we can't  help you if you don't tell us about your event.  The same applies to emergencies and those who are charged with public safety and contacting the media. No automated system replaces ONE VERIFIED contact with us for immediacy, and nothing replaces the human voice received by hundreds if not thousands of people for the purpose of mass  communications in all venues:  work, home, school, office, and car.

We simply ask again that local officials include us in notification during emergencies. Radio has always been useful in emergencies, large or small.   WION has treated its commitment to community seriously since our team bought the station, now nearly 10 years ago, and will continue-to do the same as we grow further.