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Radio Station Takes to the Air Waves to Help Recover Missing Children

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RALEIGH — When a child is abducted, the hours directly after the crime are critical, as police try to track down kidnappers before the trail grows cold.

One Triangle radio station is now involved in an effort that could involve the public very directly. That effort is called NC-CAN, which stands for North Carolina Child Alert Notification System.

It will work in a fashion similar to the emergency broadcast system.

On being officially notified of an abduction, WRAL-FM will interrupt its programming to broadcast information about the missing child, the abductor, the vehicle, the direction of travel -- whatever is known at that time. Within a matter of minutes, it is hoped that there will be thousands and thousands of NC-CAN partners in their cars.

Because, instead of taking cover, listeners -- a high number of them riding in their cars -- will be asked to take a look at the vehicles and people around them, and then report anything suspicious.

WRAL-FM is the first Triangle radio station to sign on to NC-CAN.

Although the WRAL-FM morning show is usually a pretty light-hearted affair, listeners are being educated about the critical window of opportunity.

"If your child is abducted by a stranger, there is a 74 percent chance that child will be dead within three hours, so that's a very small window of opportunity for law enforcement to capitalize on," says John Goad of the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons.

The system is in a testing mode at the moment.

The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons said NC-CAN could have helped in the Brittany Locklear case. The Hoke County 5-year-old was abducted from a school bus stop in January 1998, and was later found dead.

The system is on the air on 101.5 FM, but organizers hope they never need to use it.

If you want to know more about NC-CAN, you can call the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons at1-800-522-5437.


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