June 25, 2000
Cord Hayes, Staff writer
REHOBOTH BEACH - Alan Henney admits to being a Radio Shack junkie.
First, it was crystal radio sets, then citizens band radios and finally, scanners.
The 33-year-old, who divides his time between Rehoboth Beach and Takoma Park, Md., is a scanner enthusiast. Call him, and your conversation will be peppered with ghostly traces of intermittent squawks and white noise.
For non-Radio Shack addicts, scanners are receivers that monitor emergency radio frequencies.
Mr. Henney's expertise with scanners and other forms of communication equipment is evident by his master's degree in information systems and his bachelor's in journalism and information systems from George Washington University.
He has written articles for Monitoring Times, a national magazine for communication equipment enthusiasts, and his work has even landed him on the CBS Nightly News and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
Locally, Mr. Henney uses his knowledge of scanners and their frequencies to help create his popular "weekend update" e-mail list, which beams Rehoboth area news to all who subscribe.
"I got into (compiling the update) for friends back home in the D.C. area who wanted to know about what happened in Rehoboth over the weekend," he said. "It began as a fax list in '96 before everyone had e-mail, but by '98, so many people had it that I switched to e-mail."
Mr. Henney feels that there tends to be a gap in coverage of weekend news, and he hoped to bridge it. The update format generally consists of a few sentences with the most pertinent information about an event.
"To make them into full-fledged new stories would require more than three or four sentences and would require official confirmation (of the information)," he said. "Officials often won't confirm or deny stories, and if authorities won't confirm it, it didn't happen."
Mr. Henney said that the advantage of using the Internet to broadcast news is that it can reach people quickly. He would like to parlay his interests into a career in "new media," a term often used to describe sources of news and information found on the Internet.
"New media changes the playing field because anyone can get on the Internet, and the news can be broadcast almost immediately," he said. "I hope to get more into Internet reporting, but with more of a local flavor to it."
For now, he works part time for WUSA-TV, a CBS affiliate in Washington. In the summer, he helps out with his family's Rehoboth-based rental property maintenance business.
When he returns to Takoma Park in the fall, the weekend update stops. It is missed by many, including David Statter, a longtime friend and a reporter for WUSA.
"I find when he leaves at the end of the summer that I really miss the weekend update when it's not there," he said. "It helps me as a reporter because the beach is very important to our viewers, and he has given us several tips that have led us to stories (in the Rehoboth area)."
To get on the free list for Mr. Henney's weekend update, go to his Web site, www.henney.com.
Justin Cord Hayes can be reached at 644-6320 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.