In a dramatic effort to raise awareness of the rise of heroin and opioid use in Arizona, all 33 broadcast TV stations in the state will air on Jan. 13 an investigative report produced by students at Arizona State University.
The simulcast was organized by the Arizona Broadcasters Assn. The 30-minute docu will air commercial-free at 6:30 p.m. on most stations, and at 5 p.m. on Spanish-language stations. It will also air on about 90 radio stations in the state.
“Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona” was produced by students at the school’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
National Assn. of Broadcasters prexy Gordon Smith said it was “nothing short of extraordinary” for so many stations to unite in committing to showcase “public service journalism.”
“Broadcast stations are fiercely competitive, but our industry leaders are bonding together on this public danger in order to save lives,” added Art Brooks, prexy-CEO of the Arizona Broadcasters Assn.
Arizona stations previously joined together to broadcast a report on crystal meth in 2008 that was produced out of state. Arizona station managers told the ABA they’d donate airtime again only if the report was produced by the Cronkite School at ASU, Brooks said.
The program will feature a toll-free number for viewers seeking help and more information, with a group of 100 drug counselors assembled during the broadcast at Phoenix’s PBS affiliate, located at ASU, to take calls. There will also be digital extensions of the docu widely distributed through the websites of the TV and radio stations.