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New York Media Able To Stay On Top Despite Power Outage

Aired August 15, 2003 - 20:44   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The media, of course, made the best of a bad situation. New York newspapers hit the streets this morning despite huge obstacles and radio stations have stayed on the air. Thank God for radio, providing for many of us, the only source of immediate information from most people.
For a look at how they did it, I'm joined now by two guests, Michael Goodwin of the "New York Daily News," Michael Keefe of WNYC Radio. Thanks to both of you.

Michael, you got a paper out yesterday. How did you to it?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, not only did we get it out, we got a million copies of it out. How we did it was an extraordinary effort and a lot of luck. I mean, for something this big, you need so many people, from the reporters and the editors, photographers who did a great job, all the way down to the electricians who were literally in the basement of our building splicing the wires together to keep the juice flowing from our backup power.

And in the end, as I said, we got a million papers on the street. We wiped away the competition. So from our minds, and I think all New Yorkers today, "Daily News" owns New York.

BLITZER: Do you have a backup plan, an emergency plan ready to go? Did you anticipate this could happen?

GOODWIN: We actually do have a backup newsroom in New Jersey. We thought about going there. We couldn't get there. The streets were clogged. The ferry routes were clogged. So, we had to just count on the luck and our guys held up the juice long enough we could get the paper out.

BLITZER: John, a lot of us were glued to radios. A lot of people walking around with transistor radios in the '50s and '60s. It brought back a lot of memories. You guys must have been incredibly busy.

JOHN KEEFE, WNYC RADIO: We were incredibly busy. And not only that, we ended up having to broadcast over our telephone lines to our transmitter via NPR in Washington because we couldn't get to our transmitter. Our backup power actually failed sooner than we had hoped before we could get to our backup facility at Sirius Satellite Radio.

So, we had to have our two hosts on different telephone extensions talking to the transmitter via Washington. It was very cobbled together.

BLITZER: Did you stay on the air the whole time? Or was there a time when you went dark?

KEEFE: There was a brief time when we went dark. We had to switch over to some backup power, but because we were able to route our phone calls, our host talking on the phone, we were able to stay on the air.

BLITZER: What what lessons did the "New York Daily News" learn from this experience, God forbid it should happen again.

GOODWIN: I think the most important thing is communication. I mean, everybody stayed in touch with everybody else the best they could. We immediately fanned out across the city. As soon as the lights went out, we sent reporters to all five boroughs because you have to get there quickly. Otherwise the streets get shut down. The bridges get shut down.

So, we were there in an instant which is why we did so well at the end of the day we had the information. We had the pictures. We were with the people as they were leaving the buildings.

BLITZER: A lot of people love radio but you probably had a whole new generation of listeners out there who might not necessarily be listening. What has been the reaction to the way you guys broadcast over the past 24 hours?

KEEFE: The reaction has been very positive. We were able to go on in the air with a call-in show today and we were able to get people to call in and talk a little bit about the stories that they had, getting out of the subways, other acts of craziness and cooperation in the city.

And people responded very quickly. As soon as we got our number out, people were calling and pretty rapidly. I'm sure we had a huge audience because there wasn't many other places to go for electronic media.

BLITZER: There wasn't a whole lot of other places to go. New Yorkers, even if they had some sort of power they couldn't get -- they couldn't watch television. There wasn't anything to watch.

What about the "New York Daily News." How much were you relying on radio for some information?

GOODWIN: To be honest, zero.

BLITZER: Really, why?

GOODWIN: I told John earlier, we heard one report that they had. And what time the power would come back on today. It turned out to be partially true, but the there were so many rumors going around yesterday you couldn't credit anything. You really had to know yourself. Which was again important why we were all over the city.

That's how you could know. You can only know what you can see yourself. That's why we were in the five boroughs.

BLITZER: Michael Goodwin, good work to you. Thanks very much.

John Keefe, good work.

Radio guy, a Newspaper guy, a TV guy, we got all the media represented here tonight in Times Square.


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