Community and college radio stations are unique in broadcasting because in addition to being important community services, many are also a community crossroads, hosting dozens or hundreds of people in their studios and spaces in any given week. That means the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic poses a specific challenge for these broadcasters.
KPFA’s “UpFront” co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert and National Federation of Community Broadcasters program director Ernesto Aguilar join to help us understand how college and community stations should deal with the pandemic on and off the air. As a community journalist, Brian has been on the front lines of helping Bay Area listeners get the best information and advice. He has recommendations for how stations should address critical information, and misinformation, on air, and how they can frame issues for vital community discussion.
Ernesto observes that the pandemic is a “learning opportunity” for stations to be sure they have an emergency response plan that keeps them on air, even if functioning with just one staff, volunteer or engineer. Having automation can be one important tool, causing him to warn that the current situation is a “wake up call” for stations that have resisted the technology as a “badge of honor.”
We also review feedback from listeners and readers who let us know how the stations where they work and volunteer are managing the pandemic.