TV Rundown 9100 Page 8
Desert Hotline was hot
A popular idea was to staff a hotline with volunteers to answer all sorts of
In Dallas, KDFW-TV started on the day of the war deadline from 5 p.m. to midnight.
They received over 3,000 telephone calls in the first seven hours!
--- Is there going to be a draft?
--- Can you tell me if my husband's unit is going to be moved up?
--- Where are the bomb shelters in this area?
--- Do I need to buy a gas mask?
--- Are they going to start rationing?
--- Will gas prices go up?
--- Have you heard about terrorist activities?
--- What can I do to help?
Vice President of News Mike Sechrist said the calls fell into three categories: people
who just needed to talk to someone; people who had loved ones in the military; and
people with genuine questions.
"When the fighting started, we started getting kids calling who were home alone and
were scared to death," he said.
The News 4 Texas Desert Hotline consisted of 20 telephone lines, and was set up in
the center of the newsroom.
"In every newscast we show it and go to it to ask them what kind of calls they are
receiving," Sechrist explained. Most of it was staffed by volunteers from major
employers and a bank. The medical association sent the counselors. The doctors and
other medical professionals left the station at midnight on the first night of the
fighting, but they all left their own 24-hour hotline numbers in case some callers were
in desperate need of help.
"Most of the callers just want to be comforted," said Sechrist. They wanted
At first, the phone bank personnel only had a small amount of information with some
Red Cross numbers to give out. Because response was so good, a news wire machine
was installed so the people working the phone bank had the latest information to give
out to callers. A booklet was compiled of important phone numbers for volunteers.
Each shift was briefed so they were up-to-date on what was happening. The volunteers
even had video monitors so they could see various feeds.