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iHeart’s Star-Spangled Broadcast, COVID-19 Continues to Dominate Conversation

Also, news from SAS, RFE and others adjusting to life during the coronavirus pandemic


Broadcasters and manufacturers continue to adjust to realities of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is some of what’s happening in the industry as of March 23.

iHeartMedia says all of its more than 850 radio stations, regardless of format, will broadcast “The Star Spangled Banner” at noon Eastern Time today to promote solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Italian broadcasters came together for their own musical solidarity event Friday. Other nations across the European Union informally opted for a pop culture touchstone — “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — for their own COVID-19 unity broadcasts, rather than the European anthem.

According to an email from iHeartMedia Communications Director Danielle Vitucci, the musical gesture is intended to express solidarity and “to celebrate our collective strength as a nation and recognize the heroic efforts of so many workers on the frontline – including our doctors, nurses, health care professionals, caregivers and other critical responders who are working night and day to get us through this. ”

If you’d like to learn more about the historical relationship between the USA’s national anthem and radio, check out this article we published around the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

As RW reported last week, many U.S. stations have also donated airtime for PSAs to educate the public about COVID-19.

— New York state-based Broadcast Devices Inc. shared an update from President/CEO Bob Tarsio, who reports that BDI is open for business and is doing its best to operate normally, remaining open from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. However, Tarsio says they are experiencing some supply chain challenges but have not reported major interruptions.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith was interviewed on C-SPAN‘s “The Communicators.” He addressed the NAB Show cancellation, how broadcasters are covering the COVID-19 pandemic, how viewers and listeners are consuming the news, and more during the half-hour segment. Watch it here.

Manufacturer Sierra Automated Systems told customers Friday that All of operations from our three facilities throughout the country are operating normally.”

The statement was from Vice President Al Salci. It has operations in Los Angeles, Denver and New York. Each location has SAS engineers available for support questions and troubleshooting. … SAS has many options available for remote operations of your complete systems for both PC and IOS devices and we will be providing these apps at no charge. Many SAS facilities already have mechanisms in place for disaster recovery and unmanned operations and we will be recommending using similar configurations.” It said SAS-based systems can implement remote control over consoles, audio mapping for TX paths, metering, automation and logic over IP. The company said it plans to release overviews and “how to” videos. It said it does not anticipate delays to current orders.

— Australia and Canada have withdrawn from the summer 2020 Olympic Games, which are scheduled for July 24–Aug. 9 in Tokyo. Broadcaster NBC and TV provider Comcast have both indicated that they are insured against losses should the event — which is a major advertising draw — be postponed or cancelled, TV Technology reports.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty says its journalists are continuing to prioritize accurate reporting on the coronavirus pandemic with an eye to the local situation in each country where they broadcast. The subject first became a priority for its Russian service when news leaked about the COVID-19 outbreak in neighboring China. As the coronavirus has spread, RFE/RL says it has adapted coverage according to local needs, with an emphasis on fighting misinformation and sharing best practices to keep communities safe.

— Mobile app provider RadioMax is offering to provide a station app for radio broadcasters that tell the company they need one to better help serve and inform their listeners and community during the coronavirus pandemic.” The offer is good through June 1, according to CEO John Wanzung.