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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: Investigative Reporting: Radio


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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
SDX Awards: Investigative Reporting: Radio

Winner: Doug Sovern, KCBS Radio

by Jim Poyser

The cell phone system gets overloaded. Blackberries will be overloaded because they use the cell phone system network, public telephone lines, hard wire lines will be overloaded. We will lose the ability to effectively, efficiently communicate.

On April 18, 2006, Bay Area residents paused to remember the devastating Great Earthquake of 1906. The Bay Area was not prepared for that shaker, which destroyed hundreds of buildings, killed thousands and ignited a fire that burned in San Francisco for days.

Reporter Doug Sovern based his special five-part KCBS story, “7.0: Ready or Not,” on questions surrounding the Bay Area’s preparedness for the next great earthquake.

“The more I poked around, the more I discovered a tremendous amount of complacency and a real lack of preparation,” said Sovern, a three-time winner of the Reporter of the Year award for California/Nevada. One official admitted to Sovern that in the event of a big quake, “There is a very good chance that you will not be able to call 911 on a cellular phone.”

Public response included supportive feedback from listeners and from public agencies. The vulnerability of the BART Transbay Tube was highlighted and received new attention from the agency and from the government.

Judges lauded the “excellent use of sound and storytelling. The writing is tight and bright. It felt like every possible angle of the story was covered.”

Sovern said, “It’s wonderful to get a chance to stretch out and give a story the length and depth it needs, and to get out and dig and be a real reporter. Unfortunately, that only happens a few times a year, but if you keep giving me awards, my boss will let me do it more often!”

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