Early in 1998 much of the northeast of North America was hit by a huge ice storm. It has come to be known as the Great Ice Storm of 1998. The rain turned to freezing rain and among other effects was the coating of power lines and pylons with a build-up of ice to the point of collapse. Many people were without electricity for long stretches of time even after the weather cleared up.
I was lucky, my power conked out on a Friday afternoon and was back by Sunday evening. Unlike the current call to isolate, people came together and helped each other. The tenants in the couple of apartments in my building with gas stoves were kind enough to boil water for neighbours and even heat food. A strong sense of community grew out of the miserable conditions.
Without electricity, radio became my, and I assume many others, main source of information. Battery-powered of course. I recall listening to longtime Montreal radio personality Joe Cannon.
As I’ve said many times, when I watch TV news the presenter is addressing a large audience, but with radio that person is talking to me.
Similarly now, during the COVID-19 isolation, although I am not electrically challenged, I still find myself turning on the radio for up to the minute local and national information. TV news channels certainly provide video from around the world, but radio seems more focused on me, local content.
Of course, it’s not perfect. The wide variety of people calling the studio ranges from those with legitimate questions and comments about the pandemic to the lunatic fringe claims that it’s all a plot to unseat Donald Trump.
Joe Cannon has long retired, but I still feel radio is the best way to keep abreast of the rapidly changing situation in which we currently live.