Hurricane Coverage Hits Home For Lake Charles Radio Stations
How do you cover a hurricane that was being called 'historic' even before landfall? And what if that storm was headed straight to the community you call home? That question was no doubt on the minds of the programming staff at Townsquare Media Lake Charles as Hurricane Laura neared landfall in southwest Louisiana. Many of them evacuated and continued to provide updates to their listeners remotely.
Unlike regional reporters and national news correspondents, who can come in for the storm and go back to their undamaged homes after winds die down, local media personalities have to juggle their own emotions with their duty to serve the public.
Erik Tee, Brand Manager of 107 JAMZ and Director of Content for Townsquare Media Lake Charles, found himself in that position. He made the early decision to stay behind to keep the stations on the air, before being asked to leave by authorities. He obliged and evacuated like many others in the Lake Charles area. He rode out the storm just outside the storm's path. We spoke with him on KPEL as he was waiting to see what was left of his home after Hurricane Laura brought 130+ mph winds.
Mike Soileau is another well-known radio personality in Lake Charles. He provided live updates to listeners until the station lost power at the height of Hurricane Laura. The station, located along I-10 on the Calcasieu River, was expected to be hit with a record storm surge. Instead, it faced winds topping 130 miles per hour.
Soileau joined Acadiana's Morning News from Biloxi, Mississippi where he evacuated. Emotions ran high as he talked about the unknown of what he would be returning to at his home near Prien Park in South Lake Charles.
The Townsquare Media Lake Charles building fared better than most others in the area and by Thursday evening, stations started coming back on the air. The photo below shows a damaged metal awning that collapsed in the storm.
The goal of Erik Tee, Mike Soileau, and several others on the team continues to be service to the community. It is also a key objective of Townsquare Media as a whole. Both men talked a lot about rebuilding and what the people of Lake Charles and the surrounding areas will do to come together. At the center of their plans for the near future, getting back on the air and helping their listeners through this traumatic event. And for that, they should be applauded. Kudos, Townsquare Media Lake Charles.