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COVID-19: Broadcasters Keep Communities Healthy, Informed

Radio does its best work in difficult times — informing and entertaining listeners

Here’s your Thursday edition of RW’s coronavirus roundup. We share examples of how the radio industry is reacting to the pandemic and helping communities stay in-the-know. Tell us what you’re doing, and we may feature you in a future article or Q&A.

— Creativity and humor will get us through. Here’s an excellent example of both from Canadian station K97, a promotional billboard/PSA that explains the concept of social distancing. This image was shared by international programming consultant Ken Benson via the new Facebook group Coronavirus Radio Ideas.

— The Georgia Association of Broadcasters is calling on radio stations to broadcast Gov. Brian Kemp’s Town Hall scheduled for tonight (March 26) at 8 p.m. Email the GAB if you need assistance to air the event, or download promos here.

The event, which will focus on COVID-19, will feature Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Georgia National Guard General and Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson.

— RW friend and frequent contributor Dan Slentz shares this update about how Dover-New Philadelphia, Ohio’s WDNP(LP) is handling the coronavirus crisis. First, he reports, the station is now providing hourly three-minute updates about the local affects of COVID-19, including information from nonprofits that are helping the community. Their social media presence also reflects this commitment to local coronavirus coverage.

The LPFM is also limiting the number of volunteers allowed at the station to two at a time. Dan says the board has also stocked up on disinfectants and hand sanitizer and invested in windscreens for each on-air talent.

WDNP has also made a few financial adjustments related to the outbreak. First, it will run extend current underwriting announcements for at least 30 more days in order to support these local organizations. Second, the station has frozen plans to grow or improve the station in order to preserve funding; Dan says these measures should help WDNP stay on the air for 16 months, even if they don’t receive additional donations or underwriters.

— In the United Kingdom at 8 p.m. (Greenwich Mean Time), the radio industry will applaud those fighting the coronavirus as part of the #clapforourcarers campaign to support the National Health System and its workers.

— Industry suppliers have had to consider whether and how to react to orders from local jurisdictions about closing non-essential businesses.

RF supplier ERI published a statement Tuesday: “ERI is recognized as part of the U.S. critical infrastructure communications industry and as such will maintain primary operations.” It cited guidance from President Trump regarding critical infrastructure industries as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. “Consistent with this guidance, Electronics Research Inc. will remain open and operating at a capacity level necessary to make currently scheduled shipments, to respond to new orders and customer support requests,” ERI stated. “This exception for Critical Infrastructure businesses, which includes ERI, is included in Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s Stay at Home Order.” That order kicked in Tuesday and runs at least until April 7.

“Some of our workers are operating remotely but those working from home have access to the tools needed to perform their normal duties and ERI’s facilities are staffed and remain open to fill the needs of the radio and television stations that are performing the vital functions of delivering news, important safety information and providing entertainment to the audiences and communities they serve.”

iHeartRadio Honolulu has rolled out, a new website featuring local Oahu businesses that are still operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ones that are hiring or looking for volunteers. will also host a virtual food drive for the Hawaii Foodbank, according to the launch announcement.