Should the Broward county Democrats follow through on their plan, it will be highly irresponsible. Currently Broward county has a contract with WIOD AM 610 to broadcast the county’s emergency hurricane information. The county chose this station because emergency planners said its signal strength is stronger than other stations, and it has so many sister stations that it can get important hurricane information to the largest number of people. Now the Broward county Commissioners, all Democrats, want to cancel the contract with WIOD because it airs the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity shows:
Commissioner Stacy Ritter said she did not want to support a station that’s out of step with area politics. Ritter, a Democratic stalwart in the state Legislature before being elected to county office, cited talk shows hosted by Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and WIOD’s partnership with Fox News.
“They have every right to speak, but we don’t have to do business with them,” she said.
Limbaugh has long been a fixture on WIOD, but no county official raised an issue about him or the other shows when the deal was approved for the first time a year ago.
The deal with WIOD would ensure that news conferences are broadcast start to finish live from the county Emergency Operations Center in Plantation. Emergency managers became concerned during hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 that radio and television stations preempted their announcements in favor of news out of Miami.
Ken Charles, WIOD’s director of AM programming, said the station’s talk show lineup has no relationship with its news coverage and that the county should focus on the benefits of teaming with the station.
“It’s a shame that people would let politics get in the way of saving lives in a hurricane,” Charles said.
The contract with WIOD was on the verge of being rejected when commissioners instead delayed a decision until next week. They told their communications staff they want more information on why WIOD was recommended and what their options are.
Ritter’s concerns were echoed by Commissioners Ken Keechl, a former president of the Dolphins gay Democratic club, and Suzanne Gunzburger, who served on the vote-tallying board that recounted the 2000 presidential election.
But Commissioner John Rodstrom, a one-time young Republican leader who later became a Democrat, said the county should not politicize emergency management.
“If we are going to start censoring what people write in the paper or speak on the radio or television, that’s a slippery slope,” Rodstrom said. “This is necessary. It’s something we need to do for emergency response.”
This is so irresponsible, it’s shocking. These Democrats would rather issue this contract to a radio station that’s sympathetic to their politics even though doing so would limit the number of people who have access to the county’s emergency information. Can’t these people get above politics for anything? What’s next, making access to county government services contingent upon political affiliation?