Peter Rukavina writes about CBC Radio’s poor local coverage of the blizzard that hit PEI (and much of Atlantic Canada) on New Year’s Day:

There was a scatterling of local-like news from Halifax on the hours, but otherwise CBC Radio choose to go national for the day, leaving the private radio stations with the job of informing Islanders about the day. […] So here’s the thing, CBC Radio: either you’re a vital, local information resource, or you’re not. It’s bad enough that local news disappears every weekend, but to take four days off in a row during the biggest winter storm of the season means you’re abdicating your role to the privates.

Rob Paterson echoes the sentiment, and wonders about web-based alternatives to local radio:

I know it’s Christmas and New Year BUT the CBC has really failed us the last few days during the storm. No help at all.

I am wondering – could some of us set up a community based news system that would be able to do a better job in emergencies such as the Blizzard?

I can see an interactive map – power outages, closed roads, video, pictures and commentary.

Both of these comments made me think about what CBC’s coverage should have been, and I immediately remembered Mark Ramsey’s presentation to the Public Radio Program Director’s Conference about what radio has the power to be:

An iPod never soothed your fears when a tornado leveled your neighborhood. An internet stream never volunteered its time and money for your local community. A satllite radio station never brought your favorite music artist to town. A mobile phone never tossed you a free t-shirt at a movie screening. You never called Apple to play a game or request a song or enter a contest. Nobody at Last.fm ever inflamed your political passions or solved your relationship problems or helped you handle your money. Internet radio never helped you find your way home in rush hour. It never helped you know what to wear to work or school. It never made you smile or cry or feel like you’re part of an extended family singing along to the same tune and laughing along to the same joke.

The miracle of radio is not that we play the same song as everybody else does, but that we do everything they don’t.

Radio is that friend in the dark, that playground in the mind. Close your eyes, and see what you hear.

Local radio forgets this at its peril.