The Phoenix-based staff of “The Kim Komando Show” abruptly shifted last week to a primarily remote work setup due to well-founded concerns about COVID-19.
Radio World is reporting in this series of articles about how various radio enterprises are managing in the coronavirus-driven context, with a particular emphasis on technology and operations.
WestStar management sent an email to employees notifying them that offices were closed to all except “necessary technical staff” and a sign was now posted on the exterior door, announcing closure for anyone who might have missed the emailed memo.
While this decision was made quickly, WestStar Executive Chairman Barry Young told Radio World he had begun preparing his staff for this scenario more than a week prior.
Under normal circumstances, there are about 50 employees who work at the 27,000 sq.ft. facility. Prior to this, WestStar had three remote workers.
WestStar’s flagship program is the “The Kim Komando Show,” a three-hour talk radio show, which is also produced as a one-hour segment for Bloomberg Television. Under the current circumstances, Young explains they will continue to produce and distribute the radio content to their 450 or so affiliates, although they will now work from the much smaller studios that only require three-people to keep the show on air.
The audio content is created from employees’ homes and then routed via Comrex Access units to producers who also edit from home as much as possible and then share it online or upload it to the Westwood One satellite distribution system.
However, some productions do require staff to go to the WestStar building. When they do, the aim is to “get in and out as quickly as possible,” while also following “extraordinary procedures” to keep staff healthy. Employees are required to wear Latex gloves and clean equipment with 71% alcohol mix before and after using it.
[Read RW’s profile of this facility and the role of key vendors like Wheatstone, Innovative Show Design, Pacific Mobile Recorders, Acoustiblock and Studio Technology.]
“The Kim Komando Show” has an extensive online presence, supporting related podcasts and e-newsletters as well as web content. Young reports that all writers, sales and traffic are working remotely.
Additionally, the infrastructure that supports WestStar’s digital products is “handled by servers and fiber lines” at the Phoenix facility. Thus far, the IT team has been able to manage and maintain it remotely.
However, WestStar has decided to repurpose and repackage its television content for the time being; the TV version of the show is normally produced on a set with 10 cameras that requires a 20-person staff. WestStar will temporarily lay off some of its part-time television production personnel, and Young said he expects these will be the only jobs affected.
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