Keeping a station on the air during a disaster means crafting and rehearsing a plan that’s often based on previous experiences. As Nexstar’s ABC affiliate in Panama City, Fla., learned from October’s Hurricane Michael, sometimes the unforeseen still happens. After the WMBB building lost power, the news team set up in the station’s parking lot for newscasts.
Winds tore the roof off Nexstar’s Panama City ABC affiliate during a live broadcast as Michael made landfall. The studio has not been repaired yet, so the station is broadcasting remotely.
Nexstar’s Panama City, Fla., ABC affiliate was on the air doing wall-to-wall coverage as the winds whaled outside. According the station, its roof was torn off. The station lost power and therefore can’t broadcast, but its website is still being updated.
While consumers with GPS-enabled smartphones expect real-time weather reports down to the street-corner level, station meteorologists say it’s not that simple. Most of what one gets from apps is just model data that hasn’t been subject to human interpretation. Sifting through the various models and presenting a forecast that incorporates local knowledge is where station meteorologists excel. “The local knowledge that experienced meteorologists can lend to the product is invaluable,” says Justin Keifer, chief meteorologist at WMBB Panama City, Fla.
Spun off from Gray’s purchase of Hoak Media, the three stations and two satellites are the group’s first in Panama City, Fla., and Grand Junction, Colo. Nexstar got them for $33.5 million.