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Letter: Broadcasting From in the Bubble

How operations at our community station in New Zealand were affected

I read the article “Community Stations Share COVID Stories” and thought you might like our perspective from New Zealand.

When the COVID virus struck here in New Zealand, the government and health authorities were very quick to act.

Everyone in New Zealand was put in Level 4 lockdown immediately within 24 hours of the first cases being identified. Stay at home, work at home, no visits, no travel.

Studio at Radio Woodville
Studio at Radio Woodville

Everyone had to stay in their bubble except for essential services. Only supermarkets, hospitals and radio and TV were allowed to operate under very strict rules. Community stations like our Radio Woodville were allowed only two people on station.

Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were abundant. The outside door was closed and locked. Anyone who was sick with no matter what stayed away. “Alph,” our automation computer, played on 24/7.

The community council had emailed me and asked we broadcast public health and safety messages if needed and requested by them. We were to stay positive and stay in touch with the community.

That’s how it was for four weeks of Level 4 and three weeks of Level 3. Staying isolated in bubbles was how it was. No going out to work and no school. Those who were nonessential workers were only allowed off their properties to shop for food and walk for exercise but maintaining a strict 2 meter social distancing.

Supermarkets were a nightmare because only 10 people were allowed in at a time, queues were long and delays were longer. Once in Level 2 social distancing was still required. The public had to keep a contact register whereever they went. We did this in our station logbook. Under this level the commercial world was starting to get back to normal.

We are not free of COVID yet, however all the cases are in managed isolation. This bug is sneaky. We got cases from people working in a cool stores unpacking imported meat. Again by quick action and tracing the source was identified and isolated.

We have a very resilient audio and transmitter chain and had no technical issues. The power supply also carried on without any outages.

Eric Bodell, QSM, is station manager of Radio Woodville.