Well, fuck ME.
You know how you can buy those emergency radios, the ones you can crank up the battery and they'll play for a while? Probably have a red flashing light and maybe a siren? They probably have multiple weather radio bands, AM, FM and maybe a band for the now-obsolete TV audio?
Take my advice: if you own one, go put it out in the yard and let your dog play with it, or defecate on it, or maybe you can use it for target practice, because you can crank that damn thing all you want, and in 99% of the United States of America, in an emergency, you won't find a goddamn thing worth listening to on it. Crank it all night. I dare you.
Tonight in the United States, there's serious, already-fatal flooding going on in Colorado from historic rainstorms that passed through today. On television, here where I am on the East Coast, there are horrible pictures of houses, cars, trees, everything being washed away.
To keep track of this, since I know people in that region, and understanding that their power might be out, I went to my old friend, the intertubes, to try to keep abreast of what was going on out there. A simple search for "Boulder Colorado newsradio" brought me to the website of KRDO, based out of Colorado Springs. Not all that close to Boulder, but hey, their website had all sorts of important-looking banners with shit like CONSTANT UPDATES: blablabla CLOSED and BREAKING NEWS and LISTEN LIVE.
Well, fuck me, I clicked.
A player popped up, and I listened to FIVE MINUTES OF HORSESHIT ADS for dentists, penis pills, real estate, you name it. And what hard-hitting local coverage were they providing on radio about these already-fatal flash floods? Coast-To-Coast, where some tin-hat shit-for-brains from Connecticut was calling in with his latest Russian conspiracy theory, nothing to do with the flooding that WAS ACTUALLY KILLING PEOPLE RIGHT NOW IN COLORADO.
I finally called them on the telephone, and some dimwit basically said, uh, "we can't turn those ads off." I told her in no uncertain voice, "YOU CAN."
I also tweeted and namechecked them with the same complaint (basically, "why the fuck are you not covering real news?"), and got this community-centered response about the minutes-upon-minutes of bullshit ads before the audio stream on the net -- this is a verbatim quote:
"@KRDONC13: they're typically :15 or :30. This is a business, so they're not going away. Thanks for your feedback, though."
You pieces of corporate shit.
"Yeah, people around us are dying, people are losing their homes, everybody's lives are getting disrupted, but everybody at the fucking radio station (AM and FM) that locals MIGHT listen to on those crank-up emergency radios in their attics get to listen to ads for penis pills and real estate, then find out there's no useful local emergency information because the corporate assfucks cannot imagine breaking away from the network to actually, I don't know, fulfill the duty required of them by the FCC licensing procedure that has been in place for eighty fucking years?"
Before you tell me to fuck myself ("Turtle, nobody does that any more!") let me tell you:
One year ago just about now, Hurricane Isaac hit Louisiana. And I found a station online who was in the thick of things, down near New Orleans, might have even been the legendary WWL-AM and they completely suspended their regular broadcasting to actually, y'know, provide a community service to their listeners. And they kept their internet feed up, for more than a day and a half, and one man in particular was on the air when I tuned in in the evening, he was there all night and well into the next day... no ads, no network programming, just taking calls from local people and relaying amazingly specific emergency information to those who needed it, right on time when they needed it, and probably saved some lives that night.
It was a stunning piece of radio, and I listened until I couldn't stay awake any more.
If you live somewhere that's in any kind of danger zone -- and as Hurricane Sandy, wildfires in California and Colorado and New Mexico, and hurricanes on the Gulf have shown us, a lot of us do, even if we didn't know it before -- step back a moment and ask yourself:
if the shit comes down, is there even a real person at the local radio station I listen to?
Is there? Or is there some corporate assfuck who would rather keep the Clear Channel network feed running because they have no fucking idea what else to do?
Think about that the next time you hear the EAS tones on your local station.
"Had this been an ACTUAL emergency, you would have been told where to buy penis pills, the latest Dr. Oz book, or how to donate to 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS. If you are actually IN an ACTUAL emergency, you can go fuck yourself."
Folks in Colorado, please keep an ear out. When their license comes up for renewal, please go kick the living fuck out of them. They could give a flying fuck if you live or die.
And that is NOT in the public interest.
And that still matters to me.