After a deluge of criticism, supervisors in Broward County, Florida have decided to retain WIOD Radio as their "official" emergency information station. As we noted yesterday, the county supervisors (all Democrats) were threatening to end their partnership with WIOD, because the station is also the local affiliate for Rush Limbaugh.
The proposed switch didn't sit well with country residents, who flooded supervisors' offices with complaints, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. By the close of business on Wednesday, a majority of supervisors said they would vote to renew the agreement with WIOD when they meet next week.
We don't live in South Florida, but the plan to end Broward County's partnership with the station was just plain dumb. WIOD is the dominant news/talk station in the region; it's 10,000-watt signal blankets the area, and the station is part of a Clear Channel "cluster" that includes FM outlets that simulcast its emergency broadcasts. But, because WIOD also airs Rush Limbaugh and other conservative hosts, that was enough reason for the Broward supervisors to look for a new "emergency information station."
Rush reportedly addressed the issue on his program yesterday, making the same point we offered. During a hurricane or other emergency situation, the broadcast of public information should not be trumped by partisan politics. The only concern should be which station is best-suited to deliver to deliver that information to the widest possible audience, and WIOD certainly meets that criteria. The station has been cited for its coverage of past hurricanes, and that's one reason that South Florida residents reacted angrily to the proposed change.
Kudos to the Broward County residents for defeating a partisan political ploy that clearly wasn't in the public interest. Their calls and e-mails to the supervisors provided a victory for common sense, and their own safety.