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Fort Myers Stations Provide Refuge (WZVN-TV, WBBH-TV)

Topic: Disaster Relief and Recovery

Montclair Communications’ ABC affiliate WZVN-TV Naples, Fla., and Waterman Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate WBBH-TV Fort Myers, Fla., provided 65 hours of continuous coverage, with the combined newsroom staffs of 110 people, including eight meteorologists, working 12 hours on and 12 hours off. They became a refuge for staff members’ families and pets, serving hundreds of meals to the 236 people, 26 dogs, plus cats, reptiles and a Macaw. The guests, who ranged in age from 87 years old to two weeks, slept in mechanical rooms, the conference room and hallways. The eye of the hurricane passed directly over both the studios and their transmitter site, breaking a water main and crashing a tree onto a parked car. Both stations suffered minor service outages, but simulcasting ensured uninterrupted local coverage. The stations’ over-the-air signals served as a lifeline, as millions lost cable and satellite TV service. Station websites received nearly three million page views per day.


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