Gary Berkowitz

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

The coronavirus outbreak is concerning on many levels, but one thing is for sure: It can and most likely will affect everybody in one way or another. Many music stations across the US are wondering: What do we do with coronavirus? The answer is simple. Keep your listeners informed and be there for them.

Acknowledge it. There’s no getting away from this one. Every listener to every radio station expects to hear about the virus and what impact it will have on them and their local community. Short on staff? Do whatever you must do to make this coverage a priority, no matter what the format, no matter what your staffing looks like.

Local, Local, Local. At least once an hour run a “Coronavirus Update” It can include updates that come down from health organizations, national government officials and most important, news on what is happening locally. Cancellations are mounting up daily. Events are being cancelled or postponed. Colleges are sending students home for the semester! This is the kind of information that radio excels in covering and listeners expect to hear. Talk about mass appeal. This is an outbreak that will affect every listener you have.

Let your listeners know you will “break in” when necessary. Since most formats depend heavily on at work listeners, air promos and liners that let your listener know that they can listen to you while they work, and you will “break in” when news breaks. This may keep them with your station during work hours versus moving to another station or TV.

Prepare for the worst. What would happen if local authorities quarantined your studios? Are you prepared to stay on the air from either an alternate location or can your people access remotely? It may sound far-fetched, but it could happen. Now is the best time to consider what you would do in such an emergency. It might only take one infected person to close down and quarantine the station.

Radio has always excelled in covering these types of events. Yes, today’s operations can make this tougher, but we must all stand up and do whatever it takes to serve the public interest and be there with timely, accurate and calm information.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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