Since the last newsletter, the coronavirus pandemic has gripped the United States and the world. The loss of life has been amplified by the strain on communities as jobs disappear and local culture collapses. In these times of stress, community radio and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters have risen to meet this tremendous challenge.
In spite of community radio’s slim resources, volunteers and staff members have themselves been resourceful. It has not been easy. WOMR is just one station to lose volunteers to COVID-19.
Community radio is but a small part of a larger effort to create a sense of normalcy. And stations’ initiatives have been creative and noteworthy. From WTJU partnering with a local arts non-profit for crowd-sourced poetry called Quarantine Haikus to KMUN working with the Chamber of Commerce to educate audiences about open businesses, stations stepped in to support local listeners and the economy. Volunteers at stations everywhere have recorded from home, DJed by phone, and lifted up local artists.
NFCB sprang into action in March and April to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We issued guidance for stations on safety, programming and operations, and sign templates for stations. The NFCB Solution Center has been bustling with immediate-response articles on labor law changes, SBA loans, fill-in programming options, technical resources, home studio setup, and ‘silent’ on-air fundraising. NFCB added a webinar on creative approaches for listening and responding to your community during social distancing. In addition, the organization has provided members daily email communications featuring resources, funding opportunities, and other assistance. NFCB has since made its guidance available for free to all stations interested in receiving it.
The peer-to-peer experience has been central in our response to the coronavirus. During such a cataclysmic moment, NFCB recognized station leaders needed to talk with each other, compare notes, and learn together in a situation virtually none of us had ever experienced. NFCB organized weekly Zoom meetings for stations seeking peer support and assistance. Our Zoom meetings have featured training on remote recording, leadership amid stress, the federal loan program, and automation systems. Those calls are ongoing.
And finally, NFCB joined in on the national movement to support stations. From work with stakeholders in Washington around emergency funding to coalescing with dozens of other groups to call for greater assistance, NFCB has been influential in making the case for community radio, as we have been for over four decades.NFCB encourages those interested in community radio’s coronavirus response to subscribe to our weekly website posts here.