Radio to the Rescue: Serving Communities ​in Times of Disaster

By January 18, 2018Updates

​As last year’s horrific disasters, from hurricanes to earthquakes, demonstrated all too acutely, the importance of radio in providing life-saving information and communications cannot be denied or compromised.

And while the recent EAS false alarm that threw Hawaiian residents into a state of panic was just that — false — imagine a worst-case scenario, one in which the alarm signaled real danger.

Is your station ready? With so many Hispanic radio stations serving communities in hurricane and other dangerous weather strike zones, how well is yours prepared to lead listeners out of harm’s way?

Are Hispanic broadcasters taking a big enough role in lobbying for the FM chip? Should they be doing more?

At the Hispanic Radio Conference, March 13-14 in Miami, you’ll learn from broadcasters who have experienced these situations firsthand. A highly qualified panel of experts will offer their insight and expertise in a session that could be the most important 40 minutes you’ll spend this year.

​Francisco Montero, managing partner of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth and session moderator, offered these thoughts. “Perhaps not since Hurricane Katrina have we been so bluntly reminded of the vital importance of radio during times of natural and man-made disaster. Just in the past months we’ve seen Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as record-breaking fires and mudslides, to say nothing of the unwelcome return of nuclear missile warnings. During all these events, the public turned to radio as their source for news and information. Our panel will bring together experts from broadcasting and the government to discuss the role of radio during times of crisis.”


Frank Montero is a co-managing partner with the law firm of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth. He focuses on telecommunications, broadcasting, media and technology. Montero’s practice includes FCC regulatory counseling, corporate finance, asset and securities acquisitions, intellectual property, and real estate and commercial transactions. Montero was an appointed member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, and he has served as the Director of the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities. While at the FCC, Montero worked extensively with industry, trade associations, financing institutions, and governmental agencies to create business opportunities for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and other small businesses in the telecommunications and technology sectors. Before his appointment, Montero was a partner with the Washington communications law firm of Fisher Wayland Cooper Leader & Zaragoza.​



Manny Centeno is a project manager at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a DHS/FEMA program manager and IT specialist, he leads operations and maintenance of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System and National Public Warning System. Centeno designed and deployed a highly capable emergency satellite communications network; implemented and leads the IPAWS Laboratory at the Joint Interoperability Test Command , a component of the Defense Information Systems Agency; and oversees the design, modernization and enhancements of the NPWS stations. He also successfully planned, managed, and conducted the first-ever nationwide test of the EAS in 2011. Centeno began his career over 30 years ago as an on-air announcer, manager, sales executive, and engineer. He has extensive experience in operating broadcast stations during disasters and through recovery. In September of 2017, Centeno deployed to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to assist in maintaining broadcast capabilities in the two territories in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The FEMA NPWS stations were a crucial link in providing critical life-saving information to the public.

Reuben Jusino is a consultant to the wireless and broadcast industries. Shortly after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico in 1982, he took a job with the FCC. During his 32-year tenure there, Jusino rose from a journeyman agent to resident agent of the San Juan, Puerto Rico office. Capping off his career, he was honored with the Employee of the Year award in 2016. As a consultant, Jusino most recently provided advice to the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association in serving the Hurricane Maria Task Force. Just after the storm a handful of the more than 100 stations licensed to serve Puerto Rico were left on the air; Jusino provided guidance in getting FCC and FEMA help to the affected broadcasters, relying in part on his experience gained following the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. The Hurricane Maria Task Force has also worked alongside the Hurricane Task force created by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.


Eduardo Rivero is vice president of the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association. He has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Puerto Rico and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard University JFK School of Government. Rivero has extensive government experience in economic development in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean-Central America region. He was director of the Caribbean Basin Initiative Program and later deputy secretary of the Economic Development Department of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He also headed the Economic Development and Tourism Department of San Juan and was executive director of Puerto Rico’s Public Broadcasting Corporation. In the private sector, he worked in the planning and expansion of Puerto Rican companies in Mexico, Perú, Central America, and the Caribbean. He is also owner and president/CEO of the advertising agency Milestone Communications, part of Media Power Group, which owns Puerto Rico’s Radio Isla AM network and indoor digital signage company Inside Media. Rivero headed the Radio Industry Recovery Task Force after Hurricane María hit the island in September 2017.

Paul S. Rotella, Esq., is the president and CEO of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association and an active member of numerous service and broadcast industry organizations. He has served in a host of governmental, business and association leadership positions. After earning his law degree, Rotella began a general legal practice in Hackensack, NJ, specializing in local government and municipal law, transactional real estate, land use, sports and entertainment law, general corporate and securities law. He has provided legal and business consulting services to clients such as Genworth Financial, Burger King, Topia Technologies, the Real Estate Mortgage Network, Coldwell Banker, Mercury National Construction, Cliffside Park Housing Authority, Garfield Board of Education, and the Borough of North Haledon, as well as to several regional, statewide and national service, non-profit, professional, and trade associations. He is recognized as an accomplished entrepreneur, industry advocate, and highly effective mediator. Rotella has concluded several complex, multi-million dollar negotiations in numerous private, regulatory, and governmental forums.

The Hispanic Radio Conference, March 13-14 in Miami, is the only conference dedicated solely to Hispanic radio. Now in its ninth year, the conference attracts the industry’s key leadership in management, sales, and programming, whose combined audience reaches approximately 95 percent of the 59+ million Hispanics in this country.



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