Meister: Radio noise that mattered post-quake


After the earthquake of Oct. l7, 1989, commercial radio stations performed an invaluable public service and justified, if only briefly, the bright hopes when radio broadcasting was introduced 75 years ago

By Dick Meister

(Dick Meister is a longtime San Francisco journalist)

To me, and doubtless to many others, commercial radio is nothing more than highly unwelcome noise. Turn the dial, and what do you usually get? Advertising. Lots and lots of advertising. Inane music and talk shows. News headlines conveyed with great speed and false excitement in hopes you will stay alert for yet another commercial.

It is radio designed primarily to deliver listeners to advertisers. But it can serve nobler ends. I know, as do millions of others in Northern California. We found out within minutes after the earth began the 15 seconds of terrible shaking that brought such great devastation to the region on Oct. 17, 1989.