The volunteers were screened carefully.
"Because of heightened security, we have to closely check everyone who comes in,"
Sechrist said. If someone called and wanted to volunteer, they couldn't just invite them
into the station. Volunteers were limited to members of groups who had identification
cards from their work.
"Everyone in the station is issued a visitor pass," he added.
An added benefit of the hotline was getting tips from callers as well as a feeling of
what people were concerned about.
When the network ran video of an anti-war protest, the telephones lit up.
"We heard from the Silent Majority, and we ran it on our next cut-in. We told viewers
CBS ran the protest, and the Silent Majority called here," he said.
Gulf Crisis Line
In Sacramento, KXTV had tremendous response its the Gulf Crisis Line.
News Director Judy Grant said it was designed for people who wanted to find out the
latest news, vent about media coverage of the war, or to express their concerns.
As time passed, it was adjusted in response to the inquiries.
"Now, it has evolved into specialists, such as the Red Cross telling people how to
donate blood, and doctors to help people cope with the war," she explained. Other
specialists included the IRS and financial counselors to help military dependents cope
with the money issues.
"We were looking for a way to support the community in times of crisis, and we've
had hundreds of phone calls. It has almost become a support group in itself," Grant
People were often anxious to make their calls and comments.
One liveshot guest was less than lucky. In Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV News was looking
for reaction to the President's State of the Union speech. A man named James Schlagel
gave his comments --- and was arrested just a few minutes later at the restaurant.
Police officers watching the news had recognized him as a man wanted for allegedly
stealing a police car and engaging in a high speed chase.
Many ideas were successful
Here are other ideas that worked:
Single topic show.
Several stations added or expanded newscasts in the initial stages of the conflict.
KHQ-TV, Spokane, added a show in the 4-4:30 time period on a single topic: the war
in the Gulf.