Topic: Disaster Relief and Recovery
Posted on 2/22/2021
TEGNA Senior Vice President Brad Ramsey, president and general manager at ABC affiliate WFAA Dallas, Texas, spoke with TVSpy on Feb. 22 about their preparation for the winter weather. As senior vice president, Ramsey also oversees stations in 11 Texas markets. TEGNA stations cover 87% of households in the state and the station group has nearly 1,200 employees across Texas. “We knew in the middle of last week that this was going to be a historic Texas storm, and we were largely prepared for the storm itself. Our stations started booking hotel rooms last Friday and Saturday, for what we knew would be extended hotel stays near our stations,” said Ramsey. “What we were not prepared for, and what the entire state of Texas was not prepared for, was the rolling blackouts not rolling. It became clear Monday afternoon that they were simply blackouts. I would estimate that more than half of our 1,200 employees in Texas were without power at some point Monday and/or Tuesday, and a notable portion of them for 24-36 hours straight, or more…that’s when we realized we had more of a humanitarian crisis than a weather crisis.”
Ramsey discussed the storm prep meetings held at stations across the state, many of them including the chief meteorologists, and the effort to shift resources to digital content in anticipation of power outages. “On Tuesday, at the height of the power outages, we had nearly 4 million visitors to our websites across Texas. I think at least part of our success can be attributed to focusing just as much on the written word as we did on video, knowing that cell service was jammed in a lot of places and for many consumers it was easier to access text than video.” Ramsey said their top priority is keeping people safe in times of crisis, especially when it comes to their employees. “I tell our teams in times like this that no soundbite, no piece of video, no story is more important than their own well-being. If our people aren’t fed, warm and safe they can’t do their jobs. We were more so in the people business than the media business this week.”
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