Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ever See A Tornado?

I never really did, but I had to warn people about them all the time during the peak season when I was doing radio in the Midwest.

The scene went something like this: The sky began to look pretty green and ugly and the main radio station in town would send out the EBS warning tone to the secondary stations. At that point, we would copy the information (“The national severe storm center in Kansas City,” etc.) and interrupt programming to warn out listeners.

Since we were a powerful FM station, and quite popular, we affected many counties in at least two, if not three, states. I remember one extreme storm (“head for your basement now and take a portable radio with you”) that pretty much wiped Allegan, Michigan, off the map. If people were listening to the opera from New York, that’s all they got.

We announced severe thunderstorms at the next convenient break; tornado watches (keep your eyes open) as soon as possible (during lulls in the Metropolitan Opera) and within seconds of receipt when it was a tornado warning (funnel sighted to the southwest). One time we had one headed right for us; had our name on it.

I announced that fact, told our listeners to take cover, then hid in the center of the radio station where I would not be hit by flying anything. It passed over us or around us; I didn’t care at that point. I was not interested in a re-make of “The Wizard of Oz.” Nothing flew up, nothing crashed down; I went on with my show.


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