WEBJ becomes lifeline for many

Published 1:41 am Wednesday, September 22, 2004

By By LYDIA GRIMES Features reporter
WEBJ Radio has been a life line for those in the Brewton/East Brewton area-some of whom have had no other source for information-since Hurricane Ivan devastated the area last week. Dennis Dunaway and Candy Cashman Smith have been back on the air since 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16, as soon as they could get the station up and running.
Dunaway and Smith made the decision early on, that in order to function, they would not try to be on air 24 hours a day. They go on air about 6:30 a.m. and sign off at 5 p.m. The two are either on air at the same time or take turns when someone has to check on a story.
They are very concerned about keeping their facts straight and making sure that everything they report has been checked. There have been rumors that have proved false and they do not want to contribute to the confusion.
The station is getting a lot of information from people such as David Jennings, the director of the Escambia County Emergency Management Agency. Individuals are calling to tell them when gas, water or ice comes in, in addition to asking questions.
The radio has been able to broadcast, asking for information as well. So many people have been without phone service that sometimes it is hard to get messages through. The radio gives an opportunity to get messages to workers as to when they should go back to work, whether schools and businesses are open, or will open. Store managers are able to contact the radio station to broadcast what and when items are coming in to the stores. WEBJ is able to tell the public all this information and where to find water, ice and hot meals.
While Smith talks on the phone to people who want to know if the courthouse is open or if their garbage will be picked up, Dunaway is in front of the microphone trying to encourage the listeners with a bit of laughter and a lot of calming reassurance that everything will be all right.