Two TV stations in Chico-Redding, Calif., KRCR and KHSL, devoted a combined 230 hours of continuous live coverage on television starting last Thursday. In addition, both posted hundreds of stories to their Facebook pages. Viewers noticed their coverage on TV and on Facebook, and flooded the stations with emails and Facebook comments.
4,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has destroyed more than 1,000 homes.
Preempting programming on a TV station for live, wall-to-wall TV news comes at a considerable cost in lost advertising revenue.
And while the decision to do so is made on the grounds that it’s in the best interest of the community, it’s nice to know you’ve got the corporate owners backing.
“When this thing first started, Bob Prather is emailing me, ‘Peter go full coverage and stay with it’,” said Peter O’Brien, the general manager of KHSL, the CBS affiliate in the market owned by Heartland Media. Robert Prather is Heartland’s president.
“You read that and that just keeps you going,” said O’Brien.
Viewers appreciated that commitment:
THE ONLY station that has a reliable feed that we could find quickly was KHSL. UNREAL coverage.
Not only were they (still are) covering the fire spread REAL TIME, but it seemed that no one was even taking a break. Congratulate them on a JOB WELL DONE. Everyone on the team responds quickly to my emails, the on-air people (hosts) are so fantastic that it is quite surprising, really!
I believe that one host, on the ground, is Haley Mills. You should review her on-air interviews. The guy on right now, doing the wearther (6:30am Local time) is SO GOOD that it amazes me. I have some experience myself. He is CLEAR, concise, covers the wildfire data SO well. TRULY REMARKABLE. I am simply a grateful viewer who thinks it is possible that no one at corporate has seen the job WELL DONE by the entire KHSL team. — Dave
Thank you so much for all the most accurate information about the Carr Fire. My family had losses of their homes from this fire. Because of you and the staff of KHSL Channel 12, my family received the most accurate updated information that saved their lives. You can’t believe just how thankful and blessed I am because of you!! While danger is at the feet of your reporters and staff, they hold their ground to protect all of us with up to date announcements. You are forever in our hearts. Thank you!!! — Joe, Redding, Ca
I just watched and listened to Haley Watts, on the ground.
Such heartfelt and professional commentary from her…wow.
She is a keeper! She is so far your best on-the-scene Commentator. — Dave
KRCR, the ABC affiliate in Redding owned by Sinclair, is the other station in the market that went to continuous live coverage as well, and in addition, parachuted in 17 additional news personnel from other Sinclair stations around the country.
“It was incredibly heart-warming to see crews coming in from as far away as Seattle, Boise, producers, photographers, MMJs, digital people, directors, whole crews to help out our staff,” said Jennifer Scarborough, KRCR’s news director. “It was really amazing.”
In addition to the live television, both stations posted hundreds of stories to their Facebook pages, during the live television coverage and they continue to post stories now, after both returned to normal programming a few days ago.
Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s VP of news, says the outpouring of support is the real story, because even if people couldn’t watch TV due to being evacuated, they were never out of touch if they could get Facebook.
“It’s at times like this that the community looks to us broadcasters to keep them informed,” said Livingston.
“The outpouring of thanks from the community has been overwhelming,” said O’Brien. “I have emails telling me we saved lives.”
“The community outreach has been amazing,” said Teansie Garfield, KRCR’s general manager. “We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Garfield says people delivered food to the station’s newsroom, including a couple in their 70s who had just been evacuated but stopped at a grocery store for muffins and pastries to take to the news crews as a thank you.
Both stations had employees who were evacuated. Some stayed at their respective TV stations, others stayed with other employees or friends.
NOTE: Given the current environment journalists and members of the press find themselves in, I thought it important to include more comments and emails from viewers of both stations.
You can see examples of the stations’ coverage by going to their websites, https://krcrtv.com/ and http://www.actionnewsnow.com/ or their Facebook pages, https://www.facebook.com/ActionNewsNow/ and https://www.facebook.com/KRCR7/
Just wanted to let you know that you guys are totally ROCKING this coverage. — Roseanne
We have been watching your coverage of the Carr Fire and can’t thank you enough for all the dedication and information. — Wendy
You guys ROCK! Thank you so much for staying on the air, especially last night, as all of us in the Igo/Ono area were able to have your station and dedicated personnel stay with us all night and keeping us informed! — Tracy