87th AMS Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 17 January 2007: 5:15 PM
All-Hazards radio-A Central Texas success story
205 (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Bob Rose, Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin, TX; and J. Spencer
The citizens of Central Texas are some of most informed people in the county when it comes to severe weather and floods thanks for to a unique partnership between KXAN-TV, Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Midland Radio and HEB grocery stores. A program to sell discounted NOAA All-Hazards radios through a local grocery store has turned into a phenomenal success story, with the sale of the most radios of any city in the county.

In 2005, Midland Radio approached KXAN to see if they were interested in joining forces to sell discounted All-Hazards Radio in the Austin market. Central Texas has the unique distinction of being the flash flood capital of the United States. It is also home to frequent outbreaks of severe storms and intense rain events. All-Hazards radios are an essential tool the public needs to prepare for sudden changes in the weather. KXAN was eager to partner with Midland radio in the project but needed to find a willing partner to sell the radios. KXAN and Midland approached HEB grocery store, the dominant retail grocer in the region. HEB had never sold weather radios in the past but felt it was a good fit for their mission and agreed to carry the radios in 48 stores across the region. KXAN also approached the Lower Colorado River Authority, a Texas River Authority charged with flood control along the Colorado River to be a partner in the project. LCRA's interest in flood control and its involvement in the river communities made it a natural fit. LCRA was extremely interested in getting more All-Hazards radios out into the public so they could learn of forecasts and flood warnings in a very timely manner.

The project came together in April 2005 with KXAN highlighting the campaign on each of their 4, 6 and 10'clock newscasts. Numerous live broadcasts were conducted at HEB grocery stores and at areas subject to flooding along the Colorado River. Several promotions were run in commercial breaks throughout the day and night. The response was phenomenal with radios literally flying off the shelves. Most of the stores couldn't keep up with the demand. Emergency shipments of radios had to be made from Midland's manufacturing facility to keep the shelves stocked. All told in 2005, over 17,000 radios were sold—the most radios sold in any market across the country. The project turned out to be a win for everyone involved; a better informed public, increased trust and viewer ship for KXAN Weather, increased radio sales for Midland radio, more timely and effective warnings and weather forecasts for the residents of the Colorado River basin and increased traffic and loyalty for HEB grocery store.

The campaign was repeated again this spring and early summer. Despite a year- long drought and a quiet tropical weather season, over 13,000 additional radios have been sold, for a two-year total of over 30,000 radios.

A unique feature of the radio program has been dollars from the radio sales returning to the community. Midland radio graciously donated $2.50 from the sale of each radio back to KXAN for use in its Make a Difference Campaign. In 2005, over $40,000 dollars was donated to various non-profit agencies in the KXAN/LCRA service territories making this a huge success for the entire community.

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