I Served as a Red Cross Public Affairs Officer during the Mendocino Complex Fire

Larry Dietz
Broadcasting at radio station KPFZ

I didn’t realize the importance of community radio until August 2018, when I served as a Red Cross Public Affairs Officer at the Mendocino Complex fire, the largest wildfire in California history. My boss, the Public Affairs Chief, asked me to coordinate with the local radio station because listeners were not getting information directly from any official source. I called in to the station one evening and took any and all questions. As a result of listener interest, I was asked to come in for a formal interview the next day.

On my way to the interview I stopped at two Red Cross shelters where I found about a dozen people listening to their radios. Every one of them was tuned to KPFZ.

The station’s studio was located on the second floor of a two-story building in the historic downtown area. Many of the surrounding buildings were built in the late 1800s. The listener-funded station had only two phone lines, one for the studio and the other for the office. Nevertheless, the phone lines were quite busy during my visit and one station volunteer was busily updating listeners via Facebook.

About the Author

Professor Lawrence Dietz has more than 30 years of diversified military and commercial sector experience. Dietz retired as a Colonel from the USAR in 2002, having held command and staff assignments in PSYOP and military intelligence to include platoon, company and battalion command. He also served as the Deputy Commander for the NATO PSYOP Task Force (CJICTF) in Bosnia. Specialties include PSYOP, information operations, strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence. His commercial sector experience has included market intelligence, marketing, customer support and legal work dealing with information technology. Professor Dietz is an adjunct faculty member teaching within the Intelligence Studies program at American Military University. You may contact him at Lawrence.Dietz@mycampus.amu.edu.