Community Radio Responds to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Stations are rising to meet local needs

The National Federation of Community Broadcasters is pleased to release a 2021 white paper that gives a clear sense of community radio’s impact during the coronavirus pandemic.

NFCB’s white paper is a data-driven as well as detail-rich snapshot of how community radio stations are today addressing the coronavirus pandemic. In interviews and surveys with more than 100 broadcasters, NFCB found that stations serving diverse and often isolated communities are providing critical, consistent programming services during the pandemic. These stations pivoted from their conventional programming schedules to public safety news and public affairs programming blanketing the airwaves.

Our report contains dozens of stories from rural communities nationwide. You can see and hear from even more stations on this page.

Community Stations and COVID-19

An excerpt of KIDE’s Facebook livestream of a COVID-19 Tribal update

WHCP-LP’s broadcast and Stream during COVID-19

WHCP-LP (Cambridge, Maryland) launched Cambridge Community Conversation as the pandemic worsened in May 2020. The bi-weekly series broadcast on-air and online via Facebook and YouTube. It brought community leaders into the homes of residents, and has featured the County Health Department, County Schools Superintendent and many others.

Stations respond during the crisis

KPDO-LP
Pescadero, California
Wildfires that struck this region during the pandemic put new dimensions on local hardship. The station sprang into action, telling the stories of local firefighters and fire brigades, and how large landowners, state parks, county parks, and regional open space districts are turning to Native American history and practices to use controlled, or prescribed, burns to prevent catastrophic wildfires. The station produced a series of interviews about the preparation, practice, and future use of prescribed burns as a subject of several stories.

KWLP shares Tribal Council meetings during COVID-19

The station carried all Tribal Council meetings live, so the community could remain informed about COVID-19 response despite meetings being closed due to the pandemic. The station distributed 400 small FM radios in the community to ensure those without internet or cellular access could remain informed during the pandemic.

KSQD (Santa Cruz, California) had five volunteers begin reporting immediately around the clock from the August 2020 wildfires. The station aired stories from the shelters around the county and from the firefighter briefings. It also opened the phone lines for offers of help, including shelter, goods and food for fire victims.