WINY radio keeps listeners informed after hurricane Irene
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Wed., Aug. 31, 2011
By 6 p.m. on Aug. 28, the worst of hurricane Irene's winds and rain were over in the region, but the residents who ventured out saw that a good portion of the city was without power. Trees and power lines were down everywhere. Cumberland Farms on Route 171 was, however, open and doing brisk business. Zoe's on Woodstock Avenue was making pizza and subs. Price Chopper was open. And within the recesses of WINY, three men manned the phones and answered calls and broadcast whatever news they could to anyone listening.
Josh Sanchez was rooted to a telephone and computer, as one call after another came into the station. He dutifully added street names to a long list he'd created in the hours since he came in. Bill Alley and Adam Heath pulled duty in the broadcasting booth.
Alley had shown up at 3 a.m. to get the station up and running. The back-up generator went off and on, but by 6 a.m., WINY was broadcasting live. By turns, Alley and Heath reported on recent developments. There was no third shift for a company that had called in. Schools had canceled the first day of classes. Old Hall Road was closed down due to a downed power line, as was a portion of Route 197. They read off shelter locations and hours of operation. They read off the telephone number for Pomfret residents to call for emergencies. On and on they went, passing along whatever information had come into the station.
“We want to feed the public as much information as possible,” Heath said during a music break. “We're trying to give them the most accurate, up-to-date information as it comes in. We're constantly updating things.”
The shelter at the Putnam Middle School was closing down at 5 p.m., and Heath announced that to his listeners. “Try to stay off the roads as much as possible,” he said. “It'll make it easier for others to do their jobs.”
The telephones kept ringing. Heath kept talking. Sanchas kept answering the phones.
“We're going to be here till dark,” Heath said in a smooth baritone. “We're going to put everybody to bed. Maybe Bill and I will sing 'Kumbaya' for you.”