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Ventura County Faces Two Major Wildfires In A Week, With Thousands Evacuated

The Maria brush fire burns near Santa Paula on October 31, 2019

KCLU is the NPR radio station in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, which are immediately northwest of Los Angeles County.  We are a small station, with five full time staff members, and two part time news anchors.  The News Director is also the station's reporter/field reporter, and produces all of the local content.

When the station was hit by a pair of wildfires in less than a week in 2019 (the Easy and Maria wildfires), we went into overdrive on coverage.  We were on the air with the first hour of the first fire starting, and had coverage for five straight days.  We also had updates on our websites, Twitter and Instagram around the clock for the initial 72 hours.

We have more listeners than the signals out of LA which lap into our market, and we think it's because we provide the type of local coverage the big boys can't.  Some of it isn't always pretty (four minute live shots!), but we provide key information our listeners need about evacuations, and emergency shelters.

I also had packages and interviews with people threatened by the flames, but because this category calls for live, on scene reporting, and not you go!