If you were at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City on Saturday night, you probably experienced the whole traffic mess—Parley's closing down, cars stuck, and accidents everywhere.
Next time listen to the radio traffic report. And for the ride home from work, we turn to Heather.
Read about her and other local radio personalities in our current issue, on stands now.
Who: Heather McShane, interim director of operations for the Total Traffic Department of Clear Channel Radio
Where you can hear her: KODJ 94.1 FM, 97.1 ZHT, KNRS 105.7 FM and 570 AM, Today’s 106.5 FM, KALL 700 AM and HD station Rock 99.1 FM
Most listeners turn on the radio in their cars—whether we’re going to the office or home—and McShane helps keep us out of traffic’s way.
“The majority of my job involves looking through 500 plus cameras, which are feeding live traffic data on Utah’s highways to my monitor,” she says. She looks for accidents, slowdowns, construction and any hazard that would affect travel. McShane and her staff also rely on seven different police scanners to find the coordinates of accidents.
She puts the data she gathers into a computer program, which transfers it to GPS units in peoples’ cars and prepares reports to read on air.
On snowy days, it’s not uncommon for McShane to be entering one accident into the computer, when four more are called out over the scanner.
On average, she is on the air reporting traffic about 170 times per day (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Most are recorded 90 seconds before airing.
“We are extremely fortunate in Salt Lake to have so many traffic cameras,” she says.
“Most cities only have a handful of cameras, and many of those only provide still shots. We get live, streaming video.”
She has reported the traffic for just over five years for Clear Channel and does so from her office in the UDOT Traffic Operations Center on the valley’s west side.
McShane doesn’t have a GPS device in her car, so she also relies on radio traffic reports.
“I’d like those commuters out there who think the rules don’t apply to them to know when they decide to drive in reverse on an on-ramp because they can’t be bothered to sit in traffic that I’m watching them.”