KWMR shone in quake

08/28/2014

The magnitude 6.0 earthquake that injured over 100 people, ripped up roads and destabilized buildings in Napa County early Sunday morning didn’t do much more in West Marin than spur a collective awakening at 3:20 a.m.—and give the local disaster council a chance to test their radio system. Many in the Bay Area who turned on their radios after the shake heard KWMR’s transmitter wrangler, Richard Dillman, providing updates and information on the air for an hour and a half. Mr. Dillman took over the station from his home on the Inverness Ridge, the first time he’s used the remote system for an event, like an earthquake, for which it was designed. When the quake woke him up, he thought, “Okay this is it, I gotta go downstairs.” Within minutes, he was listening to reports from the disaster council’s point people and Inverness’s fire chief, Jim Fox. He then hopped on KWMR to provide a live feed, and continued to get calls and updates from Mr. Fox, who had gone to check Inverness’s water lines; Bolinas’s fire chief, Anita Tyrrell-Brown; and people from as far as Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, El Cerrito and San Francisco. “The thing that was most impressive and surprising were the people who were calling well outside our normal listening area,” Mr. Dillman said. “Most didn’t know about KWMR, or where it was; they were just spinning the dial on their radios and according to what we heard, we were the only ones, the only live voice, doing updates. And many people said how reassuring that was. It really meant a lot to hear that.”