(By Gary Berkowitz) You don’t need me to tell you how serious the coronavirus outbreak has become. So I’ve been trying to think of ways that we in the radio industry — needed once again in a time of crisis — can keep pressing ahead, staying healthy, and helping our listeners. To that end, I put together what follows. I’m sure many of you have seen some of these things before. But if ever there was a time to thoroughly get the word out, it’s now. So, pass it on!
Promote “The five basics”:
1. HANDS: Wash them often
2. ELBOW: Cough into it
3. FACE: Don’t touch it
4. FEET: Stay more than three feet from others
5. FEEL sick? Stay home!
Remind listeners to practice “social distancing.” Yes, it’s lonely, but according to all authorities, it’s the best way to slow this thing down. I never thought walking outside to get the mail would be a big deal. Now I look forward to it! We need to remind listeners the importance of practicing this and keeping distance from others who, unbeknown to you and possibly them, could be carriers.
Suggest that listeners call their friends and family often. Use FaceTime, Skype, or whatever service you may have. You’ll feel better and will not feel as isolated.
Use social media. My wife and I have been putting nightly “cooking updates” on Facebook. We call it BJ’s Kitchen and she talks about what she is making for dinner that night. All the interaction has been very entertaining and distracting, plus we get hundreds of views a night. Imagine what you will get. Have your personalities make small videos that talk about how they are getting through this and post to your social media.
Other ideas on what you can do on the air:
• When possible, invite listeners to call in and share their stories. How they are coping. How are they dealing with working from home, kids being at home and doing virtual classrooms, etc. Even if you’re pre-voice-tracked there are ways to do this.
• Share experiences on your Facebook and Instagram pages. Post a video of what is happening at your house! Homemade videos are the best.
• For those who still go to work (outside of home) what special precautions are you taking? What is it like in your workplace?
• Let listeners know how to listen on Alexa (especially home-bound workers). This is a big opportunity for radio to get back in the home.
• They can listen to us all day and know that if something important happens, we will break in and let them know.
Under these circumstances, we really do need to stray somewhat from the liner sheets and let our listenership know we’re there for them. Especially on morning shows. Yes, the CM free hours and workday position is still important. But we also need to integrate the “in the moment” stuff as well.
Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit-based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations: www.garyberk.com. Gary can be reached at (248) 737-3727 or [email protected].