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Radio was key for information in NY after Hurricane Sandy

During the arrival and immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last month, those with power looked to television, the Web and social media for information. But large numbers of people, particularly those in the hardest-hit areas, also turned to the radio, New York Times reports.

Arbitron, the radio ratings service, reported today that from 7 pm to midnight on October 29, when the storm made landfall in New Jersey, an average of just more than a million people in the broader New York region were listening to the radio during any 15-minute period. That is up 70 percent from the same period the week before.

The audience skyrocketed in coastal areas, increasing by a staggering 270 percent on average. These numbers increased even though some stations lost their AM frequencies yet continued to broadcast on FM.

In many areas, power was out for days, limiting access to televisions and computers. Joe Puglise, the manager of Clear Channel Communications’ radio stations in New York, said that at his home in Monmouth County, which got power back last week, he tuned in on a transistor radio, and that his stations received similar reports from listeners across the region.

“We haven’t had a situation like this in terms of response from listeners since 9/11,” Mr. Puglise said.

Sean Ross, a radio analyst in New Jersey, noted in his online column that at a Top 40 station on the Jersey, the storm was a topic for news coverage, listener testimonials, even car dealer and supermarket ads. Mr Ross commented that this underscores radio’s local roots and accessibility in a time of media deluge. “Radio,” Mr. Ross said, “still has an authority that not every tweet has.”