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Hawaii Radio Floods Real Time Info During Tsunami Warning, Ignites Social Media

Hawaii Tsunami Radio

Hawaii Tsunami Radio


 Saturday, February 27th 2010 was a surreal day for most here in Hawaii.  Warning sirens going off at 6:00am send chicken skin throughout the state and cell phones start to go off.  Most people turn on the TV because its early morning and it’s the first day of a weekend so the week day work force is sleeping in.    

The early morning traffic was at a minimum.  Most radio stations are on auto pilot during the weekend but that soon changed on the day Hawaii was told to get out-of-the-way of a potentially devastating tsunami.  Like TV, radio personalities show up with early morning bed-head to get emergency information out to the masses.  A Tsunami was about to hit with unprecedented global coverage and social media spin.    

As the world watches and waits for impeding disaster, it became clear to me how important radio was to the public during the call to action; low-level lands to evacuate.  Everyone I knew was making sure they had batteries ready and their portable radio.  Everyone who had to evacuate only had their radio’s in their car to get real-time information.  But one of the most compelling reactions to radio was the spinning of information that translated itself into a social media frenzy.     

Here at Salem Radio Hawaii, Jeff Coelho, Ed Kanoi, Jack Waters, Dawn O’Brien, Hutch and Dita Holifield held down the fort with a simulcast during the event.  Supported by their production team Chaz Ontai and Raffi, it was game on and people dialed in.  At the same time the station websites reflected real-time information to support listeners around the world who needed information because they had friends or family living here in Hawaii.  In addition to live streaming radio from the sites, there was a live streaming web cam looking out over Waikiki.     

According to the preliminary stats on the websites, there was an increase of almost 300% over KAIM, KKOL, KHUI, KHCM and unprecedented stick-time on the page with the live streaming video.  Widget placement on the sites also energized the social media support from around the world on Facebook and Twitter.  And finally, though I couldn’t get the stats, I had heard that there we’re many people who were getting radio updates on their mobile apps. 


As the tsunami warning got cancelled, an obvious huge sigh of relief from the people of Hawaii could be heard world-wide as visa versa.  But in a typical day of radio even that sigh of relief would have been one-way communication to the listeners.  But because of the engagement efforts of the on-air talent that also drove people to the website, the social media sites of Salem Hawaii are still reflecting prayers and well wishes from all over the world well after the tsunami was canceled.    

Finally, Hawaii radio stepped beyond traditional and engaged the world in real-time social media.  The game has changed for ever.  Radio still has a long life if they engage.

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