Disaster Recovery

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For United States residents, the odds of dying from a natural disaster have been calculated to be about one in 3,300. While the odds of a self-inflicted death are statistically some 28 times more likely, the broader scale on which natural disasters tend to occur makes it reasonable to assume that most broadcast facilities will at some time, or another, be affected by a natural or manmade disaster. The steps taken before disaster strikes will dictate how quickly recovery will occur. Because of radio’s importance in disseminating information, the importance of maintaining a presence cannot be understated.

Photo by Wayne R. Miller

Photo by Wayne R. Miller

It is therefore prudent to create and maintain a plan for disaster recovery at your facilities, which includes maintaining a strong working relationship with your consulting engineer. As we have discussed before, every broadcast station is its own unique entity. A universal cookie-cutter approach, while a good first step, will probably not be an ideal solution in the end. As you build your plan, remember there are really three main areas of consideration.

First, it is necessary to know what potential hazards face the facility. Typically, threats can be divided into manmade and natural, or acts of God. While the initial impact of both categories to station operation may be similar, the long-term recovery may play out differently depending on the situational mechanics. Threats caused by people (anything from vandalism and equipment failure to riots and hazardous materials incidents) tend to have quicker recovery times. Threats in the natural spectrum (hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, blizzards, conflagration, etc.) are more regional and can require a greater recovery time.

Minimizing harm

There is an old maxim out there that nothing is impossible, but some things cost more. This certainly is true in the instance of reducing the impact of disasters. While you could probably mitigate away most of the potential hazards, quite frankly the lack of available resources will limit what ultimately can and should be done to prepare. For example, a multiple tower directional array could be constructed across town as an auxiliary site. The return on investment, however, would likely limit the attractiveness of such a solution for any organization other than the federal government, especially when an emergency wire antenna will result in core market coverage. Thus, operational continuity of 100 percent should never be expected, but you should strive for as close that as possible.

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