Bostonians have already begun to show their strong resiliency following the horrific explosions during the Boston Marathon. Natives and visitors have been working together to provide support and care to those injured, and to the families that have lost loved ones. Patriots’ Day, an exclusive Massachusetts annual holiday celebrating the Marathon, had turned somber after word of the explosions. A day that was welcomed with Red Sox games and the day off from work and school had turned into a horrific event.
More than 130 people were injured in Monday’s bombings. Three died, one of them, an eight year old boy. As soon as the explosions happened, tweets flooded Twitter feeds, and prayers were posted on Facebook. Local media provided aid in the form of community outreach and updated coverage. Boston radio stations, already a prominent community involvement and public service outlet, further intensified their efforts during the events. Stations switched simulcasts and integrated constant news updates while encouraging the public to call with information.
As cell phone services were shut off, CBS Radio’s WBZ-AM and Entercom’s WRKO provided continual reports, while WEEI, Entercom’s sports station looped in callers from their sister station WRKO. “Within 15 minutes we had switched to a simulcast of WBZ-AM, which we carried through midnight,” Assistant Program Director, Mike Mullaney states.
Stations were also very cautious of the messages and lyrics articulated in the songs they played. Patriotic and uplifting songs such as Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’ and Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA,’ which were highly requested and bumped to the top of playlists. “We’re carefully monitoring the songs we play, so as not to play sad songs, songs about death or those with inappropriate lyrics, like Carrie Underwood’s ‘Blown Away’,” says Ginny Rogers, MD of Greater Media’s WKLB. A similar situation followed the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Ke$ha’s single, ‘Die Young’ which had been at No 3 in the Billboard singles charts, had been dropped from all U.S. radio stations in wake of the tragedy.
Many Boston listeners called into stations to express their sympathy towards those affected and to thank local radio stations for their support and thoughtfulness in the midst of the tragic events. Stations such as WAAF have designated their social media pages for public service along with extended coverage. “Our Twitter feed and Facebook fan page have been invaluable for updates and two-way dialog with our audience,” Program Director, Ron Valeri says. “Our website is also highlighting helpful information and is being updated regularly.”
It’s clear that it will take time for Bostonians to return to their normal routines. Local radio stations will continue to provide an outlet for public expression and updates on the tragedy, while keeping the community sensitivity and comfort as a top priority.