It’s the most famous news station in the world. And CBS unblocked the webstream to the world on Monday night as Hurricane Sandy lashed the Eastern Seaboard. We Listened In.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHO  Various

WHAT  1010 WINS, New York NY

WHEN  Monday 29 October 2012

2326 We’re midway through one of the station’s famous 20 minute news sequences. The anchor, Paul James is perfectly paced, a note of authoritative calm at the heart of the storm. He tells us the New Jersey governor is worried about people ignoring evacuation, calling them ‘stupid and selfish’. Mayor Bloomberg is happy with the NY evacuation. All the time, when the studio mic is live, the signature typewriter chatter effect is bubbling in the background.

To their reporter in Battery Park, Gene Michaels, “where it is black, and where the water is flowing.”

Gene tells us the water is now slowly receding, “which is the good news. When the floods showed up, Battery Park Island became an island itself, on an island”

Gene messes up his SOC, saying he’s “in Brooklyn – sorry, at Battery Park City”. Paul replies, “It happens, Gene .. dont worryaboudit,” transmitting respect, through a throwaway comeback.

More evocative reporting follows. There’s flooding on West Street and the streetlights are out. “Not that they need them unless boats are going through. Not that we’ve seen any boats, yet.”

Branches and trees are down, “there’s a lone ‘Citizens Voice’ newspaper box standing right in the middle of 7th Avenue.” “Speaking like a real news man”, replies Paul. “Looking out for the papers,” before changing gear in a beat for the sad job of running though the fatalities so far, including two children killed by falling trees in Salem.

2330. A relief presenter takes over for the second half of the belt. “We wanna begin with this important notice.” 1010 WINS becomes part of the story, as its mast is affected and it may need to move from 1010AM to 101.1 FM.

To Carl Lebinsky, Meteorologist. We’re still in high tide. Sandy is over Philadelphia and heading West. He delivers a credible and detailed forecast in twenty seconds. Ever heard a newsreader do that? Then does the usual handback.

“Paul?”
“Alright, Carl.”

Traffic next: “If you’re not a fan of the Lincoln Tunnel, here’s another reason you shouldn’t be driving tonight. It’s the only bridge/tunnel open right now ..”

2334 ADS

WINS news time 1134, and we’re taken live to Middletown NJ for a tight 30″ report. Again, informal, descriptive, efficient reporting. “Kinda scary out here. There’s streetlights out, shops closed, eerily deserted.” And there’s even flooding in Elizabeth upstate. Then back to the anchor for breaking copy, again, read without superflous drama. NYU Langone Medical Centre is being evacuated as the backup generators have failed. He then updates us on the “transformer explosion at Con Edison in Stuyvesant Town at 14th street – a spectacular blow out captured on video.”

1136 ADS

A copy update on outages. There are millions without powers in tristate area alone. We hear a list of electricity companies and number of customers affected. The storm is now “being blamed for at least 11 deaths, 5 in NY state, including a man in Flushing trapped under a tree that fell on his house. Officials are dead serious when saying stay off the roads.” All are closed in Nassau county except to emergency vehicles.

1140 ADS and RESET

ID: All news, all the time. This is 1010 WINS. You give us 22 minutes. We’ll give you the World.
“56 degrees and cloudy at 1141. I’m Paul James. Here’s whats happening.”

The segment opens with Carl the weatherman again. “Historical flooding on the waterfront …” Sandy is now downgraded from a hurricane “but still packing some gusts, as the storm unravels.”

Now. Expanded Traffic with Jonelle Crispin, who tells us this report is brought to us with Lakeland Bank, runs through the biggest issues then runs a short Lakeland ad read off the back.

ID: Great clips of storm action, and the VO: Tracking Hurricane Sandy. Complete storm coverage now. From 10101 WINS.

Back with Gene at Battery Park City : “There are people walking around, checking things out … one man said it blew his mind to look out of his window and see West Street flooded. A lot of that water came in through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel – or wound up there, one way or the other.”

2345 ADS

SUMMARY

As you’d expect from the outfit that invented news radio, this was a masterpiece. Perfect pace and credibility. Mature broadcasters at the top of their game, sensitively handling a massive story. Descriptive nuggets, telling the story and supplying public service information in a compelling way.

Even the sponsor messages, often delivered live, seem to cut through more (by being presented by the same voices) yet distract less.

There’s an economy of language, an informality, (a confidence?) that we never seem to match on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe because we lack a truly breaking news radio station, one that never stops. We’re always interrupting for sport, for ‘interaction’, for built shows, rather than just get on with the news, in bulletin form, every twenty minutes.

It’s a shame the stream is usually geo-blocked. 1010 WINS should be required listening for students of news radio – whatever their age, and however long their experience – the world over.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

 

 

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