Every tragedy, large or small, shares a few elements. Namely, three groups of people:
- The people who are directly involved,
- The people who watch on in horror from afar, and
- The people who kinda fit in both of the first two categories.
The flooding in Iowa has me squarely in that third group: far enough away from the cities involved not to have to deal with it, but with family and friends in the heart of the mess. Yes, my peeps are fine — some are actually out of the area and missing the whole thing, some live in areas that wouldn’t be affected unless there was a Thousand Year Flood and some who just have some water in the basement. But watching my hometown get its’ ass kicked for the second time in fifteen years has left me in a profound funk, and I regret to say that I just don’t feel like doing an update today.
Instead, we’ll break out what I believe to be Toppy’s First Rerun (hold the cards and gifts) and revisit some of the areas getting slapped around by water. The town getting the most press is Cedar Rapids. Pay special attention to a few stations: 94.1 KRNA, 98.1 KHAK, 104.5 KDAT and 107.1 KRQN. These are the Cumulus stations that are off the air in the market, not because of problems at the tower, but because there’s ten feet of water in the lobby of their building. This apparently is the line that even radio people won’t cross. (Note also the irony of Cumulus being in Cedar Rapids’ Ground Transportation Center — yet no transportation is available.) Cumulus is working on getting back to the air from temporary studios graciously provided by Clear Channel and Sinclair, who share historic — in a broadcast sense, anyway — Broadcast Park. (Scott has a picture of BP here; look for the pic captioned “WMT/KGAN.”)
Check out 600 WMT, which is providing outstanding coverage of the flooding (give a listen at their website), and 102.9 KZIA, which is fitting in a great deal of information for victims between records. (Full disclosure: the first two years of my career were spent at the 102.9 facility when it was country as KXMX, and several friends still work there.)
For Toppy purposes, we’ve done what Arbitron should have done long ago and included Iowa City, 30 miles to the south, with Cedar Rapids. This is where my parents still live and which is getting another dose of what the town swallowed in the flood of 1993. Give an ear to 1630 KCJJ — a familiar listen to DXers everywhere — also doing a wonderful job of coverage, focused on Iowa City.
50 miles to the north of Cedar Rapids is Waterloo and its’ sister city, Cedar Falls. Also along the Cedar River, Waterloo is taking a beating in the flooding, including the collapse of a railroad bridge. Waterloo is also where my parents grew up and where my love for radio blossomed during summer visits to my grandparents. Check out three of the stations that triggered that disease, none of which are in the same format as when I loved them: 1330 KWLO (which was Waterloo’s top 40 station for many years as KWWL), 105.7 KOKZ and 107.9 KFMW. In the early-to-mid ’80s, the two FMs battled for Top 40 supremacy with KOKZ taking the mainstream route and KFMW doing Rock 40 (remember that?). Eventually, KFMW did what many Rock 40s did and dropped the “40” part; they’re now a successful Active Rocker who is still live and local 24/7/365(6). (Hey, they still play CDs on the air!) Meanwhile, after the original promise wore off of KOKZ, it languished through many different stances (including a particularly atrocious Hot AC format called “KZ 105.7”) before flipping to Oldies in 1997.
A little over 100 miles to the southwest of Waterloo is Iowa’s state capital, Des Moines. Des Moines featured one of the most lasting (read: repeated) images of the Flood of 1993, the flood waters surrounding Sec Taylor Stadium, home of the Chicago Cubs’ AAA affiliate. (I’ll be damned if I’ll call it Principal Park.) Obviously, the big gun here is 1040 WHO, but in taking quick scans of the dial — can you call it that if you’re listening online? — many stations are doing excellent work in their coverage, particularly the Saga cluster including 102.5 KSTZ.
If you’d like to see what some of the tower sites of these places look like when there isn’t water on all sides, check out Scooter’s visits to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City here and CR solo here, Waterloo here, and Des Moines here, here and here.
We’ll attack some goodies from the mailbag next week, when the water is receding, along with my funk and my hairline.