"You see this spinning white thing coming at you in an animation, and it gets to be really, really real," said Willoughby, a research professor at Florida International University in Miami. "It's partly the visual image of the storm. And partly the visual image of a person on TV that people trust. That's where television is really valuable."
But Willoughby, who owns two portable analog televisions, downplays the importance of being able to watch them after a storm hits.
"Television is a nice-to-have sort of thing," he said. "What you really need is a radio to know where to get water, and things like that."
The FCC is also aware of the portable TV issue and maintains a Web site to answer frequently asked questions.
Broadcasters said they would release new public service announcements to alert viewers to the new deadline, although it is not clear whether the announcements will also remind viewers about their portable analog televisions.
Groups who fought for the June delay are using the extra time to get the transition message out to the roughly 21 million people who still rely on "over the air" broadcasts.
"Unfortunately, there are still a lot of community members who are unaware of this transition," said Tania Maria Rosario, who is helping to raise awareness of the DTV switchover for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
"And we want to make sure that no one is cut off."