“Texas Station Collaborative”

KERA Public Media
August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast town of Rockport on Aug. 25, 2018. Before it finally left the state five days later, Harvey had dumped as much as five feet of rain in spots, making it the wettest storm to ever hit the United States. Huge swaths of the nation’s fourth-largest city were under water. At least 75 people were dead. Hundreds of thousands of survivors scrambled for shelter on dry land. Damage estimates have hit $125 billion, more than Katrina 12 years earlier.

Harvey presented an unprecedented challenge to the city of Houston, to the state of Texas and to the four public radio stations that make up Texas Station Collaborative: KERA in North Texas, Houston Public Media, KUT in Austin and Texas Public Radio in San Antonio. The Collaborative’s innovative response to Harvey and work with NPR set the stage for what will become the prototype “regional news hub” for a transformation of the public radio news system.

Houston Public Media delivered intensely local hour-by-hour information to its listeners, viewers and digital users in the path of the storm and the floods that followed. KERA sent the TSC’s statewide coordinating editor, Rachel Osier Lindley, into Houston hours before the storm hit, and two more reporters soon after; its statewide program, Think, produced two national call-in specials that aired from Miami to New York to Chicago to San Francisco, and across Texas. TPR dug into one resort town’s struggle to cope. KUT rushed a reporter to a spot near where the storm made landfall, sent other reporters to flooded cities and took the statewide public radio newsmagazine, Texas Standard on an ambitious three-day tour of the battered coast.

Reporters across the state dug into the issues facing thousands of evacuees who fled to shelters. And the four stations’ digital teams worked together like never before, with live blogs, powerful photos, viral videos and constant social media callouts and updates.

In the two weeks during and after the storm, TSC reporters produced more than 30 in-depth stories that aired on national and international programs, from NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered to PRI’s The Takeaway and the PBS and BBC Newshours. They also produced dozens of spots that aired on local, statewide and national newscasts, and features and conversations that gave a vivid, “you are there” feeling to Texas Standard and Think.

A selection of the standout reporting:
• Aug. 27: Andrew Schneider of Houston Public Media reports on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday from a flooded building in Houston: Tropical Storm Harvey Causes Catastrophic Flooding In Texas:

LINK 1 to content online

• Aug. 28 and 31: National call-in specials from KERA’s Think: Tropical Storm Harvey: Special Report and Voices From The Flood: A National Call-In Special.

LINK 2 to content online

• Aug. 29, Statewide coordinating editor Rachel Osier Lindley reports from the Houston Convention Center shelter for PBS Newshour: Houston Convention Center Shelters Surging Number Of Storm Victims And Volunteers

LINK 3 to content online

• Aug. 30: The statewide newsmagazine Texas Standard begins a three-day trip to coastal communities ravaged by Harvey: Texas Standard, Live From Corpus Christi

LINK 4 to content online

• Aug. 30: KUT’s Mose Buchele reports on a chemical plant threatened by flood damage for NPR’s Morning Edition: Flooded Texas Chemical Plants Raise Concerns About Toxic Emissions.

LINK 5 to content online

• Sept. 8: TPR’s Joey Palacios takes a helicopter ride over the blitzed coast: A Helicopter Tour Over Harvey’s Devastation Of East Texas.

LINK 6 to content online

• Dec. 5: KERA’s Courtney Collins kicks off a monthlong in-depth reporting project on Harvey refugees who’ve settled in North Texas and other parts of the state: One Crisis Away: After The Flood.

LINK 7 to content online

Each station’s coverage:
Houston Public Radio
KERA Public Media
KUT Austin
Texas Standard
Texas Public Radio

Submitted by  Rick Holter.