Don’t expect to see a driver-less car in commercial production before 2020 or perhaps 2025, but Google are saying they are making good progress.
Google says that cars it has programmed to drive themselves have started to master the navigation of city streets and the challenges they bring, from jaywalkers to weaving bicyclists — a critical milestone for any commercially available self-driving car technology.
Despite the progress over the past year, the cars have plenty of learning to do before 2017, when the Silicon Valley tech giant hopes to get the technology to the public.
None of the traditional automakers has been so bullish. Instead, they have rolled out features incrementally, including technology that brakes and accelerates in stop-and-go traffic or keeps cars in their lanes.
“I think the Google technology is great stuff. But I just don’t see a quick pathway to the market,” said David Alexander, a senior analyst with Navigant Research who specialises in autonomous vehicles.
His projection is that self-driving cars will not be commercial available until 2025.
Google’s self-driving cars already can navigate freeways comfortably, albeit with a driver ready to take control. In a new blog post, the project’s leader said test cars now can handle thousands of urban situations that would have stumped them a year or two ago.
“We’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal — a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention,” project director Chris Urmson wrote. The benefits would include fewer accidents, since in principle machines can drive more safely than people.
Urmson’s post was the company’s first official update since 2012 on a project that is part of the company’s secretive Google X lab.
In initial iterations, human drivers would be expected to take control if the computer fails. The promise is that, eventually, there would be no need for a driver. Passengers could read, daydream, even sleep — or work — while the car drives.
That day is still years away, cautioned Navigant’s Alexander.
He noted that Google’s retrofitted Lexus RX450H SUVs have a small tower on their roofs that uses lasers to map the surrounding area. Automakers want to hide that technology in a car’s existing shape, he said. And even once cars are better than humans at driving, it will still take several years to get the technology from development to large-scale production.
Google has not said how it plans to market the technology. Options include collaborating with major carmakers or giving away the software, as the company did with its Android operating system. While Google has the balance sheet to invest in making cars, that is unlikely.
For now, Google is focused on the predictably common tasks of city driving.
To deal with cyclists, engineers have taught the software to predict likely behaviour based on thousands of encounters during the approximately 10,000 miles the cars have driven autonomously on city streets, according to Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne. The software plots the car’s path accordingly — then reacts if something unexpected happens.
Before recent breakthroughs, Google had contemplated mapping all the world’s stop signs. Now the technology can read stop signs, including those held in the hands of school crossing guards, Hohne said.
While the car knows to stop, just when to start again is still a challenge, partly because the cars are programmed to drive defensively. At a four-way stop, Google’s cars have been known to wait in place as other cars edge out into the intersection.
The cars still need human help with other problems. Among them, understanding the gestures that drivers give one another to signal it’s OK to merge or change lanes, turning right on red and driving in rain or fog (which requires more sophisticated sensors).
To date, Google’s cars have gone about 700,000 miles in self-driving mode, the vast majority on freeways, the company said.
As streaming music services penetrate deeper into the public consciousness, telecom giant Shaw Communications Inc. is betting that Canadians will continue to rush to the cloud to get their music fix.
Shaw announced Thursday that it’s formed a strategic partnership with San Francisco-based Rdio Inc., one of the leading streaming music services available in Canada, that will see the telecom company promote the service across its numerous platforms, plus partner for content.
Read more here.
Nielsen Research may have found the magic bullet to prove the return on investment (ROI) of radio advertising. Next week in New York Nielsen is going to do a show and tell at the Clear Channel Offices and Richard Bressler who is the CFO of Clear Channel CFO is saying “Nielsen proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that radio over-delivers.” In one example, Bressler said the return for every $1 spent was $6 in return. Since Bob Pittman arrived, Clear Channel has been all about generating more data about how radio works to help boost radio revenue with advertising agencies and big national clients.
A major study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) used cutting-edge measurement tools to link radio advertising to retail sales for the first time, proving the effectiveness of radio – or “audio,” as it’s often called today – for driving sales to brick and mortar stores.
The study, “From Airways to Aisles: Measuring Sales Impact with Single Source,” found that for every dollar spent on advertising, there was a sales return of $6 on average for those exposed to the ads in the prior 28-day period.
NCS arrived at these findings through the use of single-source methodology and frequent shopper data, measuring the sales impact for the specific media buys of eight CPG and two retail brands, each of which had different combinations of radio networks. This study was sponsored by Nielsen as part of an ongoing initiative to expand insight into the effectiveness of radio advertising. This work provides an early foundation for radio ad norms in the industry.
You can read more about this study and findings here thanks to the people at Nielsen Catalina Solutions.
It looks like sometime in late 2014 or early 2015 we will see a revised Commercial Radio Policy. The regulator is promising to simplify the framework to make it more efficient and easier to administer. Hopefully that will benefit the radio operators and not just the C.R.T.C. One could read into this that we will hear about changes to Canadian content, some suggestions on the roll out of digital, and some new ways to deal with those operators who break the rules.
In the 2015-2016 broadcast year the C.R.T.C will put into action some of the things announced in 2014-2015, and either hold hearings or make some decisions regarding digital radio in Canada.
2016-2017 may be a year of calm as they monitor progress.
The C.R.T.C has included in this report a scorecard which updates Canadians on progress of a range of items. You can read the full CRTC report here
The proliferation of smartphones is changing consumer behavior, both in-car and on the go, making radio’s quest to get FM in more smartphones — as well as maintain its position in the dashboard — imperative, industry experts believe.
Automakers are embracing in-vehicle connectivity because younger buyers are demanding it in new cars. HD Radio is part of the new “digital” dashboard ecosystem, along with analog AM and FM, streaming radio and satellite radio.
And while AM retains its place in the dashboard now, station owners, engineers and NAB are pressing the FCC to loosen a host of restrictions on AM facilities to give the challenged AM band a revitalizing boost.
In-car use of online radio and other forms of digital audio continues to grow. In 2014, 26 percent of mobile phone users have connected devices to a vehicle, either physically or via Bluetooth, up from 21 percent in 2013, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital in the newest “Infinite Dial” study.
Edison Research Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Tom Webster says smartphone penetration is changing consumer behavior “significantly,” noting that: “We are now seeing activities that were dominated by desktop usage in 2013 flip dramatically to become mobile behaviors. For millions of Americans, the smartphone has become ‘the first screen.’”
EARSHARE IN THE DASH
iBiquity Digital Corp. President/CEO Bob Struble agrees the trend toward broad connectivity and a tremendously competitive audio market are accelerating. That means radio owners must increase their efforts to maintain their place in the new infotainment systems.
And the dashboard or infotainment “center stack” is getting more crowded these days with the recent launch of Samsung’s Milk Radio streaming service and last fall’s launch of Apple iTunesRadio to challenge Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and TunedIn, among others, vying for listeners’ ears in the dash.
For broadcasters, the bottom line is: All cars will soon have embedded Internet connectivity and everything it brings. The infotainment system has become a critical buying factor in new car sales.
“Analog radio basically presents a blank screen and has fallen behind competitively. Of course, AM/FM has great content, but position on the screen is being decided by automotive product people who are demanding visually enhanced experiences,” said Struble. He also cites trends of fewer home and portable products that contain AM/FM on CE shelves, bringing car listening into sharper focus.
“Everything’s an app now,” and that’s how people want to interact with their devices, he said.
iBiquity believes that stations transmitting a digital signal as well as implementing the advanced data features of its HD Radio technology have an edge because the appearance of that display in the newer in-dash infotainment systems, as well as in handheld devices, is more up-to-date and similar to the display of streamed audio services or satellite radio.
The tech developer is pushing radio owners to raise their FM power where they can and implement the advanced data features such as Artist Experience in which visual elements like album covers are displayed when the audio is airing as well as real-time traffic services delivered with both FM and HD Radio signals.
iBiquity says its technology is now offered by every major car manufacturer, either as standard equipment or as an upgrade, and built into one-third of all new cars sold in the United States in 2013. The tech developer predicts that figure will rise to half of all new cars sold here this calendar year.
More than 200 vehicle brands will include HD Radio this year, half as standard equipment, according to iBiquity. The company will have a new booth on the exhibit floor.
FM CHIPS IN CELLPHONES
Meanwhile, Emmis Communications’ NextRadio app is certainly in the hunt to bring radio into the smartphone proliferation trend. It is now a little more than one year since the deal with Sprint was announced, with the carrier pledging to install the FM radio app in some 30 million devices over a three-year period in exchange for broadcasters providing the carrier with $15 million worth of ad inventory for each of the three years.
Emmis and Sprint say both they and automakers want more stations to invest in the NextRadio FM application beyond its free logo, so more listeners can experience its interactive features — such as being able to purchase a song that a listener hears a station playing through the app. The app acts as a backchannel for interactions with a station and its advertisers. The parties also want the display and the user experience to be consistent with those of other digital audio offerings like Pandora and other streamed audio services.
The broadcaster is talking to other carriers about embedding and activating FM chips in smartphones and has developed a prototype auto companion app that includes HD Radio, with some funding from NAB Labs. – See more at: http://www.c2meworld.com/nab-show-daily-news/radio-is-part-of-digital-dash-trend/#sthash.xwomfK0z.dpuf
Radioplayer has been a big success in Britain. In simple terms it is a player that sites on radio station website. When a listener comes to your website and clicks on the “Listen Live” button it opens the player and allows them to listen to that radio station. You still get the website traffic and use your preferred streaming provider, and you also control the look and feel of most of the real estate on the player. It is also a downloadable app for tablets and smartphones that has a common look and simple user interface. The British have worked out all the bugs and refined the look of the player to make it a better user experience.
It allows listeners to find all the local stations, save their favorite stations, search for other radio stations in similar formats, of find any radio station in the country by name. But your logo, station name and frequency are prominently displayed unlike TuneIn which is more about the title and artist. That information along with other configurable meta data can also be displayed on the player.
It launched in Britain three years ago and started with about 80% of all the major stations. Since that time it has grown and today almost every radio station in England is part of the Radioplayer platform.
The benefit to the radio industry and the radio stations in particular is that they get access to better analytic data, and radio listening hours actually increased overall. So when a song came on that a listener did not like rather than stop listening or play music from their computer, they would use the navigation tools on the player to find another radio station.
Now BBM Canada and Sparkent have joined forces to offer the radioplayer tools to all Canadian CRTC licensed radio stations. They hope to launch the service on 1 June in Canada, although pricing has not as yet been finalized. I think this will be a good thing for Canadian radio because it puts us all on the same platform and makes it easier for the listener to consume radio. It may also mean that the car companies will be more likely to put this button on the dash of a connected car so that radio still has a presence on the dashboard.
What is not known is how much each radio station will be expected to pay for this service. One option might be to fund it via revenue generated by one advertising spot on the player and national advertisers could reach all listeners no matter the platform with one simple buy.
The other interesting possibility down the line is that smarter car radios could automatically tune to a terrestrial signal, but when that signal becomes weak it would search and find the streaming version of that signal and deliver that seamlessly to the driver. So you might start out in Vancouver listening to The Peak on 102.7 but move to the streaming signal once you got further out of the city and into the mountains.
In late February (2014) the CRTC asked for public comment on proposed amendments to various regulations including possible provisions requiring the mandatory distribution of emergency alert messages. This was done via CRTC notice 2014-85. Originally, broadcasters were given until 31 March to file comments, but this was extended until 17 April, perhaps because of the importance of this matter.
The CRTC seemS to be of the view that this should all be in place for both Television and Radio by 31 December 2014 which, frankly, might be asking a little much, given the equipment has to be ordered, installed, tested and operational. This equipment is designed to broadcast emergency warnings (using a computer generated text to speech type voice) to listeners in case of a major disaster occurring within your broadcast area. It will also be used to broadcast Amber Alerts or major weather alerts and Pelmorex is the organisation that will actually distribute the messages when they are issued by the appropriate local authority.
If you had your license renewed over the past year or so, chances are you may have received a surprise intervention from the Office of the Fire Marshall in regards to the participation of each commercial radio station in the National Public Alerting System (NPAS).
The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) took quick action and held an information day on this matter. It was held at the swanky offices of Pelmorex on Thursday, March 27th. The people from the Fire Marshall’s office were there as well as two different vendors who spoke about their equipment and in once case were able to show an example of an emergency message and how it would sound on the air. Most broadcasters came away with some very good information and a much better idea of how the NAAD system will work. While it may be a little complex to implement for radio, it looks like it could be a major nightmare for television operators.
The good news is that very few major alerts have been issued in the past few years. For example, in Ontario in the past six years there have been only two and they were both limited to a specific geographic areas in Ontario. One was a chemical spill near Coburg and the other was the closure of the 402 because of a major snow storm. While it looks like the process will be smooth once the Provincial Authority decides to issue a warning, the question remains how quickly the local authorities will act in contacting the Provincial authority. In the case in Coburg and another in Godderich when a Tornado went though the area, the local radio stations were well ahead of the authorities in warning their listeners of a potential issue. They key is to find out who the Community Emergency Management Coordinator is in your area and ensure you have a strong working relationship with that individual. They are the authority who are charged with contacting the Provincial Authorities in case of an emergency.
Most broadcasters I have spoken to recognize the importance of a national emergency alert system and our own vital role in delivering alerts to Canadians. It has been demonstrated over many years that local radio newsrooms have provided exceptional levels of public service. Indeed, due to our ability to provide local content and live interaction with listeners, local radio and television can provide, in many cases, a superior service to the National Alert Aggregation & Dissemination System (NAAD).
When it comes to radio, most broadcasters have staff in the newsroom or on the air for many hours of the day and can spring into action at a moment notice. They provide a great local service and should only need to use the use the Emergency Alert Messaging system during unattended hours. I think it will be important to encourage the CRTC to write the rules in such a way that an important live, local message not be interrupted by a networked NAAD message. Ideally, NAAD should only have to be implemented during unattended periods of operation.
I hope broadcasters will take the time to write to the CRTC and voice their opinions on this matter on or before 17 April when the public comment process closes. If you want to know more about the equipment you may need, please call our office and we’ll be happy to put you in touch with the equipment distributers.
as published on Radio World 2014-04-04
Starting in 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require vehicles built from May 1, 2018 on to have a backup camera. The rule applies to all road-legal vehicles under 10,000 pounds.
While the point is to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by “back-over” accidents, the mandate means auto manufacturers will also want something to display on the screens when they aren’t being used as a backup-camera and when the car is not in reverse.
We’ve previously reported that HD Radio proponents have said mandatory backup cameras means an acceleration of digital radio technology being included as standard equipment in OEM large-screen entertainment systems. Of course, so too, will other in-dash competitors, like streaming radio.
IBiquity says it’s closing in on 20 million HD Radio receivers in consumers’ hands. Of those, some 16.5 million are in vehicles.
On average, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by back-over incidents, according to NHTSA, which finds that children under 5 account for 31% of back-over fatalities each year, and adults 70+ account for 26%.
The rule requires a backup camera to show a field of vision at least 10 feet wide behind the vehicle, going back a minimum of 20 feet. Other parts of the rule considered display size and linger time, or how long the rearview camera image remains on the display when the driver changes out of reverse. NHTSA did not mandate an exact screen size.
– See more at here thanks to Radio World
I was in the US when the tragic story of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 broke on March 8th. Almost immediately many radio, television and social media sites moved quickly to cover this story, and some, like CNN and Fox, went to wall to wall coverage of this story with little or no facts. As the hours and days dragged on and few new facts emerged it was interesting to watch and listen to how the various media outlets handled this story.
All we really knew was that the flight took off from Kuala Lumpur a little after midnight on March 8, carrying 239 people, en route to Beijing. Shortly after 1AM, the plane sent its last automated message via something called the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System. At some point around that time, someone in the cockpit said, “alright, goodnight” to air traffic control. Less than an hour into the flight, the plane’s transponder stopped transmitting. About 90 minutes after takeoff, military radar picked up the craft over the Strait of Malacca. Some 6 hours later, a satellite detected the last signal from the aircraft, which indicated that it was somewhere roughly between Kazakhstan and the southern Indian Ocean.
Typically, there are two ways media outlets choose to cover a story like this: they either report the facts and what they really know, which often leads to boring coverage and people tuning out, or they use the few bits of information as the launching pad to spin a wild and captivating fairy tale. Based on what I saw and heard many of the major US media outlets choose the latter.
Now, this was a big story with all the mystery and intrigue that goes with it. This may turn out to be one of the most puzzling aviation mysteries since the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. So it deserved to be covered, but from what I saw, it quickly got out of control.
CNN was running huge graphics titled “The Mystery of Flight 370” along with “Breaking News Alerts” flashing across the screen, while the news anchors stood in front of a 3 dimensional map of South East Asia as they rehashed the handful of known verifiable facts, and then embellished them with an array of theories. At one point they even had an expert demonstrating how to disable a Boeings 777’s transponder. As someone who spends a lot of time on planes I would prefer that most people not know how to do this! For a while, a number of news outlets were speculating that this could be a terrorist attack, but in looking at the 100 large commercial airline accidents worldwide between 2000 and 2009 the causes were found to be as follows: Pilot error: 54%, Mechanical failures: 24%, Sabotage (explosive devices/shoot downs/hijackings): 9% and weather related accidents accounted for 8% of all commercial airline crashes.
All of the cable channels brought in “analysts” and “experts,” who were delivering their theories on what happened to this ill-fated flight. Pilots and aviation experts, FBI agents and politicians, all performing in front of the camera, spouting thousands of words that could and should have been boiled down to just three: “I don’t know.”
Even as I write this article we still do not truly know where this plane is and what happened to it. There seems to be credible evidence based on satellite imagery and analysis by British satellite firm Inmarsat that indicates the plane ended its eight-hour flight in the deep, remote waters of the Indian Ocean, about 1,500 miles west of Perth Australia, with no survivors.
It’s possible that the pilot or terrorists commandeered the plane, took it to a top secret location, and intend to pack it with explosives and slam it into a city but that seems unlikely. At this point we do not know anything for sure, but the most likely scenario is that the plane encountered some kind of problem and was turned around to head for a safe landing spot. It appears that it overflew this runway and carried on until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean.
So why are we sifting through the piles of theories and giving so much attention to the most outlandish and remarkable ones? The answer to that is as obvious as it is depressing. The media likes the astounding and scandalous explanations because they drive ratings. The public likes them because they are exciting.
Many people felt that CNN overplayed their hand with wall to wall coverage and Fox news did what they typically do and went for the sensational. But the big winners in all of this were the media outlets who enjoyed a huge ratings boost. For example, CNN enjoyed an 85% bump in ratings in adults 25-54. The BBC’s coverage of this tragedy has brought more traffic to its website than any story since the Japanese Tsunami, and Twitter saw some of its biggest traffic yet regarding this subject and the theories around what happened to the ill-fated flight.
CNN was publicly criticized for devoting so many hours of programming to the missing plane and some media commentators, including Howard Hurts, suggested CNN became “all-plane all the time coverage” at the expense of good journalism. He said, “we’re falling into the trap of filling airtime with facts, or pseudo-facts, or speculation that turns out not to be true.”
All this got me thinking about the importance of every media outlet having a written plan on how they will cover major events and what they need in place to ensure things go smoothly. Here are some suggestions:
Have a written policy manual: It seems like a no brainer, but unless you have a clear written news policy that details how you will cover particular news story and all your news staff are on the same page then you are asking for trouble. One great way to get started is to have your staff brainstorm what they and their families would want to know to help then get through a major snow storm, tornado, flood, or an ice storm if it struck your broadcast area. Ideally all your staff should be allocated a task or tasks depending on the situation. The News Director calls the shots, and he/she may send reporters to the scene but be sure to think about where the injured will go. Often it is to the local hospital so sending someone there will likely get you some firsthand accounts from those directly involved which is often compelling radio. Also people who were on the scene with the victims often go to the hospital to be with them, and they can be a great source for information. Also the hospital is where you will get accurate information about the number of injuries and fatalities from hospital officials. Part of that plan should deal with what happens when the phone and cell lines go down. Depending on the disaster you may be challenged by technology or a lack there of. So be sure to have Skype installed in your control room so listeners can connect with you that way using smart phones or laptops using WiFi to tell you what is happening. Also find a local Ham Radio Operator in the area who is prepared to help you get information to the radio station when all else fails. Even if the cell network crashes listeners can still send you text messages but you need an account setup at the station. You also need an updated list of all the local officials including the Community Emergency Monitoring Coordinator. This is the person who will communicate with the Emergency Management Office at the Provincial level. Having great relationships with the local police, fire chief and other local officials will be key to getting information quickly so you can use the power of radio to inform your listeners. Lastly this policy documents needs to be reviewed every three months and updated accordingly.
Report the facts: Tell us what you know and, if possible, how this impacts your audience. The ability to localise a global story or globalise a local story is also critical. In this case, the sooner you can establish if there were any Canadians on board this flight or if there were friends or relatives living in your listening area who knew people who may have been on this flight and are able to confirm those facts the better.
You don’t have to be first: In this always on instant world we live in today there is a tendency to rush the story to air without confirming the facts. The need to be first does not outweigh the need to be right so my suggestion is that it would be prudent to wait the few additional minutes it takes to check sources and confirm the details rather than rushing the story to air, and then having to make corrections and apologise to your audience later. When there is loss of life you are better to be last and right than first and wrong. You don’t beat the competition by being wrong. You beat the competition when they’re wrong by being right.
Be careful about using Social Media for news tips: Treat social media posts as a tip to be confirmed, and do not ever use that as the only source. A lot of the information blasted out of social media is either wrong or misleading so getting a lead from Facebook or Twitter is great, but you need to confirm the details before going to air with them. Traditional media such as radio and television is held to a higher standard. A very wise News Director told me many years ago that “No one remembers you were first. But they’ll never forget you were wrong.”
Use Social Media Effectively: The best way to use social media is to reach those people who are not listening to your radio station. If you have breaking news get it on the air and get it on Social Media as well. Done right you will get lots more people tuning into your station to find out the details. All too often in the rush to feed the “on air beast” we forget about the other channels available to us. Social media should not be an afterthought anymore. It needs to be part of your plan to bring people to your station in time of breaking news coverage. If you are not sending break news alters to your social media channels then chances are your competition will be, and they may end up with the additional tuning instead.
Avoid speculation: When there are so few facts known, it is easy to make the mistake of speculating what might have happened. This is a mistake and there is no reason for falling into this trap. Train your anchors and reporters so they know how to avoid this. Its fine to ask one person what they think may have happened, but when this becomes the key part of the coverage then the story, and possibly your credibility, is on that slippery slope we all hope to avoid.
There are always other stories to cover: Today more than ever, there are always other stories to fill the news run. The key is to keep a balance in the type of story you cover and how much time or ink you dedicate to each story. With electronic media, our strength is our ability to keep people up to date as new information becomes available.
Screen your experts: If you are going to interview an expert you would be wise to know what they are going to say, especially if you are putting them live to air.
Recap the facts: For a major breaking story remember there will be people tuning in who know nothing about this big breaking story. So be sure to recap the facts on a regular basis, particularly if the facts are changing
Promote in an appropriate manner: Radio wins when people listen for longer periods of time. So if there is going to be a press conference and your station is going to carry it live then be sure to promote this, both on the air and via your social media channels.
Listen to Emergency Radio messages: If your police, fire or EMO are still operating on frequencies that can be monitored via a scanner, someone from your news staff needs to be listening. Often you can pick up important information which you can then verify and report to air.
Work the phones: Remember the old saying that anyone with a phone has a microphone to your show. If a disaster happens in your broadcast area ask your listeners to call in and tell you what they are seeing and hearing. This is a great way to get ahead of your competition and get firsthand accounts of events as they unfold. By the way, it is important to only put people on the air who have new information and can actually see what is happening, so this is where having someone to screen your calls can be important.
Trust your producer: If you are operating a talk station and have a producer, you need to trust that person and if they tell you to put a call on the air you should follow those instructions. CFRB in Toronto missed a golden opportunity when that Air France plane skidded off the runaway in August of 2005. The producer told the host he has an eye witness who had spoken to some of the passengers, but the host did not believe the caller and chastised the caller on air for phoning in false information. That caller hung up but later the host had to apologise because the caller was correct and CFRB missed the opportunity to break the news that passengers had walked off the plane and were safe.
Monitor the competition: When a major story breaks you need to be monitoring the competition to see what they have. Make sure you have the equipment and manpower in place so you can keep an ear on your competition.
Be careful taking a live feed from Fox or CNN: If it is a major international story such as the Malaysian plane disappearance I have noticed that some radio stations simply take a feed from a television station. However, television reporters often are speaking to pictures that are showing on the screen and that does not translate well to radio. I recommend you record the television audio and replay the appropriate bits, but do not turn over control of your station to them, especially when the breaking news is local. In this case, both CNN and Fox got some of the facts wrong which would reflect badly on any radio station who took those television feeds.
Think about how the event impacts your listeners: When you tell listeners what they need to know to keep them safe or help them get to safe ground or home quickly they will appreciate it, and become more loyal to your channel. If this means road closures or delays then you need to be giving your listeners useful information to help them plan their day. Using the Air France example, that incident closed the 401 westbound out of Toronto for a few hours which created all kinds of headaches for those people who work in Toronto but use the 401 to get home.
Ask what we are missing: As the News Director it is important that you ask yourself this important question. Remember, no one person can likely think about all the angles on their own. It allows you to take the 30,000 foot view on the story and often asking yourself this important question works just as well on small stories as it does the major stories. Seek input from others in the building who may have suggestions on things the station could do to better relate to the audience.
Conclusion: I have only scratched the surface of the things you need to consider when developing plans to cover a major manmade or natural disaster, whether it happens in your broadcast area or far away as was the case with the Malaysian Airlines disaster. Radio is the best one-to-many medium there is in my opinion, and it really comes into its own when a disaster strikes and people need to be informed. But it is our responsibility to have solid plans in place and to test those plans from time to time. I will finish by telling you that I have never been so happy to get back across the border and into Canada so I could tune into some of my favourite news stations and hear those familiar voices delivering content that was measured and factual. I think that overall we are better served in Canada when it comes to news on radio and television.
“Couple Appreciation Month”: To show thanks for each other’s love and emotional support. Do something special to reinforce and celebrate your relationship.
“Daffodil Month”: To support cancer research. See www.cancer.ca.
“International Twit Award Month”: Any famous name is eligible to be designated most Tiresome Wit (TWIT) of 2012. Email Lauren Barnett of Lonestar Publications of Humor at email@example.com.
“National Oral Health Month”: See www.cda-adc.ca.
“Parkinson Awareness Month”: See www.parkinson.ca.
“Poetry Month, National”: See League of Canadian Poets www.poets.ca
“Stress Awareness Month”: To promote public awareness of what stress is, what causes it to occur and what can be done about it. See www.stresscure.com.
“Humour Month”: Special events in Canada and the US will focus on the joy and therapeutic value of laughter and how it can reduce stress. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. See humormonth.com.
Apr 1 “April Fools’ Day”: The joke of the day is to deceive persons by sending them upon frivolous and nonsensical errands; to pretend they are wanted when they are not, or in fact, any way to betray them into some supposed ludicrous situation, so as to enable you to call them “An April Fool.”
Apr 1 “Nunuvut Independence: 15th Anniversary”: This self-governing territory was created from the eastern half of NWT.
Apr 1 “Reading Is Funny Day”: April Fools’ Day is a great time to share riddles with children. It shows them that reading can be fun and funny. Riddles improve vocabulary, comprehension and oral reading, and enhance deductive and inductive thinking and develop a sense of humour. For info, Dee Anderson email@example.com.
Apr 2 “International Children’s Book Day”: Observes Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday and commemorates the international aspects of children’s literature. Call 302-731-1600, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apr 2 “World Autism Day”: see www.worldautismawarenessday.org.
Apr 2 “Paraprofessionals Appreciation Day”: This holiday honours the contributions of paraprofessionals, especially in education. Call Valerie Pennington 816-633-5396, email email@example.com.
Apr 4 “Beatles Take Over Music Charts: 50th Anniversary”
Apr 6 “Drowsy Driver Awareness Day”: Official state recognized day in California, but worth mentioning everywhere. Annual memorial for people who have died in collisions related to drowsy driving. Call Phil Konstantin 858-505-5014, email firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.drowsydriverawarenessday.com.
Apr 6-12 “National Volunteer Week”: A time to recognize and celebrate the incredible efforts of our volunteers. See http://volunteer.ca/content/national-volunteer-week.
Apr 7 “World Health Day”: See www.who.int/world-health-day/en
Apr 6-12 “National Wildlife Week”: To celebrate our country’s natural heritage and play a supportive role in its conservation. Annually Sun-Sat the week of Apr 10th. See www.cwf-fcf-org.
Apr 10 “National Siblings Day”: A commemorative day to honour all brothers and sisters who are living and memorialize those who have died. Annually Apr 10. Call Claudia A. Evart 212-779-2227, email: email@example.com, web www.siblingsday.org.
Apr 14 “International Moment of Laughter Day”: Laughter is a potent and powerful way to deal with the difficulties of modern living. Experience the power of laughter. For info: Izzy Gesell 413-586-2634, email : firstname.lastname@example.org, web www.izzyg.com.
Apr 18-23 “Consumer Awareness Week”: Consumer advocate Bob O’Brien kicks off a week long event aimed at advising and helping consumers with their rights. Call Bob O’Brien 646-233-6610, email email@example.com.
Apr 20 “Easter Sunday”: The most joyous festival of the Christian year, commemorating the resurrection of Christ.
Apr 20-22 “Global Youth Service Days”: See www.gysd.org.
Apr 22-25 “Administrative Professionals Week”: Acknowledgment of the contributions of all administrative professionals, and their vital roles in business, industry, education and government. Annually the last full week of April. Administrative Professionals Day is the Wednesday (Apr 23). For info: call the Int’l Ass’n of Administrative Professionals 816-891-6600 ext 2239 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apr 22 “Earth Day”: A day to pay attention to accelerating the transition to renewable energy worldwide. Call Earth Day Network 202-518-0044, see www.earthday.ca/pub/index.php.
Apr 24 “Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day”: A national public education campaign sponsored by the Ms Foundation for Women in which children age 8-12 go to work with adult hosts – parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends. Call 800-676-7780, email email@example.com, web www.daughtersandsonstowork.org.
Apr 25-27 “National Dream Hotline”: Now in its 26th year, the National Dream Hotline is sponsored by the School of Metaphysics as an educational service to people throughout the world. Staff man the hotline phones from 6pm CDT Friday until midnight Sunday. Annually, the last weekend in April. For info, call 417-345-8411, email firstname.lastname@example.org. see www.dreamschool.org.
Apr 28 “National Day of Mourning”: Day of mourning for workers killed or injured on the job in Canada.