Annapolis, Maryland (The Capital)
A series of natural disasters devastated our region over just a few days last month.
In contrast to the rare earthquake that caused no injuries or serious damage, Hurricane Irene claimed many lives and caused billions in damages. Nevertheless, both phenomena disrupted communications for millions in the region. The two also noted that radio is still the most reliable means of accessing critical information in public emergencies.
Irene caused the loss of power and all the communication devices that go along with it for more than one million customers in the Washington, D.C., area and 850,000 in Maryland. Every organisation from local agencies to FEMA and the Red Cross recognizes that radio is the most reliable source of information, which is why a battery-operated radio is a vital component of any preparedness kit.
Some advocates are advocating for a policy that would limit the reach of radio in case of a disaster, despite the fact that radio is clearly important for our safety. More specifically, the recording industry is pushing for a performance tax on radio stations based on the number of times their songs are played. Already, radio stations pay royalties to music publishers and songwriters, and this new tax would make things even worse for stations that are already struggling financially.
A change in policy will negatively affect the ability of radio stations to stay in business. Therefore, radio stations operate on tight margins. Aside from serving as the lifeblood of emergency communication, these companies also provide jobs and contribute to the daily lives of their communities. The existence of radio stations should be supported rather than jeopardised, especially in the aftermath of a recession and natural disaster.
There has been no formal introduction of performance tax legislation in Congress this year. However, the recording industry’s persistence may still lead to legislation this year. Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen need to understand the importance of radio to public safety, and fight to prevent policies that would undermine that.
Radio’s supporters should support the Local Radio Freedom Act as it represents a countermeasure to the performance tax.
Local radio is important for more than communication during disasters and emergency announcements. In addition to promoting local sports, community events, special events, local business advertising, etcThey also provide an outlet for normal community messaging and activities. But what if no local radio existed?
Thankfully, Maryland has excellent emergency first-responders and leaders who, as they did during a powerful hurricane and an unexpected earthquake, are positioned to help us cope with the next natural disaster.
Yet, as these recent events demonstrate, radio cannot be ignored. The most reliable means of communication in a disaster is radio, which ensures accessibility.
As a former Shift Commander for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, the writer is an Annapolis resident.