When the Illinois Army National Guard HHD 33rd Military Battalion was deployed to Iraq, WJBC-AM in Bloomington, Ill., and Operation Porchlight cared for the soldiers’ families back home. Providing a proper send-off, WJBC covered the battalion’s deployment on the air, sending broadcast teams along on the highway to make sure the soldiers knew how much the community cared. During the battalion’s deployment, WBJC encouraged more than $10,000 worth of donations for the soldiers’ families by running stories and hosting a donation link from the station Web site. The station also worked with the military to coordinate interviews with the soldiers overseas, which provided listeners with a firsthand account of the emotional strain and sacrifice felt both by the soldiers and their loved ones. When the battalion returned home in the fall of 2007, WBJC helped organize a community-wide "Operation Porchlight Welcome Home Parade." After being escorted through two adjacent communities in convertibles, the soldiers were greeted by their families and dignitaries at the Illinois National Guard Armory. WJBC set up 14 broadcasts on the parade route and provided four hours of continuous coverage. The station also printed up and gave away "Welcome Home 33rd" buttons, conducted more than 30 on-air interviews with soldiers and military, and ran hundreds of promotions for the event. Seven thousand community members waving American flags and holding "Welcome Home" banners greeted the soldiers upon their return. WJBC is winner of the 2008 National Association of Broadcasters Crystal Award.
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