Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Volume 19 Issue 4 (December 2011), Pages 183-234

Serving the Public Interest in a Crisis: Does Local Radio Meet the Public Interest? (pages 227-232)

During a crisis, radio stations frequently operate in the public interest, disseminating critical information the public needs. Past research offers that stations in smaller markets may be better prepared for crises and more willing to serve the public under such circumstances. These postulates were empirically tested in the context of a specific natural disaster. A survey of 124 radio stations in areas directly impacted by the 2008 Midwest flooding largely supports these assertions. The results indicate that while radio stations in a disaster‐prone region may be more cognizant of their responsibilities to the public than those in more stable locations, these stations are often reluctant to coordinate with public officials. Further, stations in larger markets tended to perceive less civic responsibility than those in smaller markets, consistent with previous research. This lends further support to a disturbing argument – that radio stations who reach the greatest number of people may be both unwilling and unable to effectively communicate with the public during times of crisis and disaster.

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