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While Covid-19 is still wreaking havoc worldwide, we are thrilled to see some encouraging signs that the spread of the virus may be slowing, and that some countries are gradually beginning the process of reopening. Regardless of where you look, this pandemic is affecting every city differently; however, one constant in our industry is radio’s inherent ability to entertain, inform, and provide some much-needed comfort.

We reached out to our friends in radio around the world, from New York City to Paris to Lima to Jakarta, and posed a similar set of questions to all, regarding how their stations have been handling the current situation. We hope that their answers will prove helpful or inspiring as you and your colleagues navigate the ever-changing challenges presented by the virus. (In cases where responses were provided in a language other than English, the original answers immediately follow their English translations.) (As an aside, we were pleasantly overwhelmed with the response rate we achieved for this initiative and have chosen to include all interviews in this blog post. We realize that this decision makes for a long read, so we will be highlighting individual interviews in subsequent blog posts.)

We’re proud to kick off our world tour of radio’s responses to the Coronavirus crisis with some thoughts and advice from legendary NYC radio personality Broadway Bill Lee:    
      


Broadway Bill Lee: Afternoon On-Air Talent, WCBS-FM (New York City)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what New York is going through? What’s the overall vibe of the city?

BL: There’s no doubt that New York City is having its finest and darkest hour ever. While other regions of the U.S. having been sending needed supplies, mobile hospitals, and healthcare workers; our own are relentlessly fighting the healthcare fight. Perhaps the most rousing aspect of Living In This Ghost Town is the ovation around the city the doctors and nurses receive every evening at 7 o’clock. Police, firemen, and citizens on balconies are cheering loud enough to be heard in all 5 boroughs when the hospital shift changes and the overworked leave for home. We all want to get back to work, but we are all street smart enough to keep our distance and, honestly, most obey the covid-19 regulations. While the death toll seems to be leveling off, the population, for the most part, is still waiting for good news. On the radio dial this means being hopeful, positive, and encouraging.

: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered and what are you doing differently on the air these days?

BL: Working from home presents very few headaches. We were each given laptops with encrypted access to our music system to voice track. While it’s not perfect, and voice tracking will never replace the advantages of a real broadcast studio, I do enjoy hitting posts and using drops from home. At this point, I’m grateful to be able to lay down a decent sounding broadcast, even if not live, from my basement. The biggest difference in the contour of my radio show has been the loss of phone calls. No doubt the technology exists, but our company was not prepared for the engineering dilemma this created for 6 different radio stations. However, when I see a 30 second intro coming on the log, instead of inserting an edited phone call (which I have always used to show my human, conversational side), now I have the breathing room to explain, in more detail (and rhyme), the story I’m getting across. It’s a learning experience I’m kind of enjoying.

: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your audience and what has been the general response from the listener?

BL: That’s almost exclusively through social media and our CBS-FM website. Because this is such a teachable experience, I believe our future will include the ability to receive and respond to texts and phone calls from any location.

: Bill, you have a stellar track record in major markets across the US. Has there ever been a time throughout your illustrious career in which you recall having to go on the air under circumstances similar to the ones we’re experiencing now, and how has this affected your show overall?

BL: There has obviously never been a situation like this before and it is a shame, but we were much better able to handle the quality of broadcasting back in the 1980s than we are now. Case in point, KFRC in San Francisco had a mobile studio for appearances at theme parks, state fairs, parades, etc. Our engineers even made it possible to broadcast while in transit with a perfect replica of our on air studio right there in the refitted mobile RV. It was a broadcast wonder of its time, but with consolidation of the 21st century, broadcast quality was sacrificed for broadcast quantity. At least in the U.S., owners wanted more stations with focused formats instead of fewer entities with broader formats. This refined budgets considerably. Enter the digital age, when many of these lost qualities can be reproduced and even enhanced. While not available yet, with a combination of the right programming and engineering minds, we should be able to even add video to a full range of audio sources at the performer’s disposal... but alas, not yet.

: We’re all living in very uncertain times. What do you recommend your fellow jocks should do – here at home and around the world – to be that special companion and still remain upbeat & entertaining on the air?

BL: No matter what, the on air personality should reflect the individual song being played! Its tempo, content, and style will give the jock a stream to swim in. Then by going with the emotional flow of the song, delivery should come naturally. Content has to be premeditated and organized, especially now in these times of ultra broadcast servicing, so as to balance bright humor (not negative sarcasm) along with real basic Need To Know information, positive, encouraging, and uplifting stories and helpful hints, which are more desirable than an hilarious bit right now.

: The general consensus is that COVID-19 is changing our way of life, and many industries, including ours, are being affected by this pandemic. In your opinion, how will this change being on the air?

BL: DRA-Matically!!! While different broadcast entities will emerge with different fiscal health, most will be astounded at how much quality is derived by having a quality performer, even with limited technical resources. In other words, many executives will say, “it still sounded pretty good”. This fact alone should reconfigure many budgets to push, even farther down the road, the gap between the highly paid performer and the non-drive time DJ. Voice tracking will become more industry standard at the expense of maintaining high rent studios in prestigious locations.

Secondly, I can’t begin to imagine the effect that home smart speakers will have on listening habits. I am, already now, redesigning the material I use for each individual hour of afternoon drive. For the present, the rush hour has been lowered and the kitchen time has increased. When the smoke clears, and we all hope that comes soon, we will probably be addressing different audiences at different times, listening in different ways; all of which will have to be taken into account by the air personality.

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Stéphane Bosc: Directeur Délégué, RFM (France)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Paris/France is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

SB: As in all countries, we were not completely prepared for such an upheaval in which we could no longer go to our studios. We were not technically ready to produce shows from outside the studio, especially with the complexity of having programs coming from multiple locations with all of the DJs and supporting players on these shows. So, we reacted very quickly and kept the least amount of people in the studio as possible (in this case, the producer of the morning and afternoon drive shows). Everyone else worked from their homes.  The other decision was to rely more heavily on automation since everyone was not in the same place, but people quickly adapted and we set up better procedures to prepare each show. I did not want the quality of the programming to be diminished and that too was a big challenge.  

Comme dans tous les pays nous n’etions pas completement prets a vivre un tel bouleversement, déjà a concretiser le fait que nous ne pourrions plus nous rendre a nos studios et pas non plus prêts techniquement a fabriquer de la radio a l’exterieur et souvent dans plusieurs encroits differents car les duos d’animateurs et chroniqueurs rendaient la situation encore plus complexe. Alors nous avons réagi et tres rapidement, nous avons conserver le moins possible de personne dans les studios seul le realisateur du morning et du drive, tout les autres chez eux. l’autre pari etaient de prendre des reflexes de connivences et d’automatisme sans etre dans le meme lieux. mais les gens ce sont tres vite adaptés nous avons mis en place des procedure de preparation d’emission. Je ne voulais pas que le programme soit degradé et ca aussi c’était un challenge.

: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home, including yours at RFM.  Given this change, what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered? What are you doing differently on the air these days?

SB: In fact, when you are listening, you cannot tell that the DJs are at home. We found a speed and a rhythm for talking, which, of course, sounds a little different coming from a house than from a studio, but if you didn’t know the DJ was at home, it would be difficult to tell. For the shows with two or more DJs, this was a little more difficult. On the morning show, for example, the DJs know each other very well and their roles are so well defined that everything went perfectly.  We have to give praise too to the talent of the show’s producers since they have done extraordinary work. For the DJs on RFM, though, it was very easy since they are seasoned professionals with a great deal of experience on the radio and they felt like it was almost like returning to the 80s when everything was a little simpler.

En fait a l’ecoute, on peut ne pas rendre compte que les gens sont chez eux, on a trouvé une vitesse et un ryhtm de croisiere, pour le son c’est biensur un peu different car une maison ce n’est pas un studio mais si vous ne savez pas qu’ils sont chez eux c est difficile de le deviner. cela est plus difficile pour les shows en duo ou trio. Sur le morning par exemple les animateurs se connaissent tellement, les roles sont si bien repartis que tout ce passe a merveille. il faut aussi vraiment saluer le talent des realisateurs des shows car ils ont vraiment fait un travail extraordinaire. Pour les dj solo sur RFM c’était aussi tres simple car ils sont mature avec un etres grande experience de la radio alors ils ont eu un peu l’impression de revenir dans les 80’s quant tout etaient moins simple.

: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?

SB: Immediately, I assumed that radio would assume its important role of proximity, being close to the listener, during this time of confinement. In addition to great music, I wanted to offer important services, both on air and in social media. We started with prizes from on-air contests where we gave away telecommuting packs (laptops and smartphones). We made the first “RFM live@home” with artists from our playlist and now we have 50 artists and 5 hours of live exclusive concerts. We hired personal trainers for our listeners and posted a regimen of 20-minute workouts on our social media platforms. Tips and suggestions from a doctor and a psychologist on how to live better during these times of confinement have also been well received by our listeners. Our drivetime shows have been transformed to pass along messages from our listeners, creating even more of a bond between RFM and its listeners. The proximity or closeness of RFM to its listeners is such an important element that we are continually reinforcing, and the listeners are very appreciative of this.  

J’ai tout de suite consideré que la radio allait reprendre son role de proximité premier avec cette periode de confinement, je souhaitais en plus de la musique offrir du service, il fallait en faire plus et a la radio et sur les reseaux sociaux. On a commencer avec les gift de nos jeux antenne on a offerts des packs de teletravail (laptop et smartphone) on a fait les premier les RFM live@home avec les artistes de notre playlist on a aujourdh’ui 50 artistes et 5h de live exclusif. On embauché des coachs sportif pour nos auditeurs on diffuse un cours de 20 mn sur les lives de nos reseaux sociaux, les conseils d’un docteur et d’une psychologe aussi on été tres bien percus (des conseils qui permettent de mieux vivre son confinement). Notre drivetime a tout de suite été transformé pour passer les messages de nos auditeurs nous avons fait renaitre le lien entre les Auditeurs. La proximité de RFM avec ses auditeurs est une chose importante nous l’avons accentuée, les auditeurs ont fortement appreciés.

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Hiero Rodriguez: Programming Music Manager, Grupo RPP, Peru (Gerente de Medios Musicales, Grupo RPP, Perú)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Peru is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

HR: The current status in Lima and across Peru is an obligatory confinement which has been in effect since Sunday, March 15th.  As of now there is no set date when it will end, so this means that NO ONE can leave their homes, unless it’s for essential needs, such as going to the supermarket to buy groceries, or going to the bank or a pharmacy.  Since the second week of the confinement, they’ve added an obligatory curfew from 8pm until 6am, a period in which no one is allowed to leave their home, and recently the curfew was extended from 6pm to 6am.  The impacts that these measures have had on our day-to-day operations have been primarily with safety, in order to provide safe transportation for some of our on-air talent that is still working from our stations.  We have also implemented a fair share of live programs from home using CleanFeed.  This was also a challenge for our DJs, since many of them didn’t have the experience or the necessary tools to go on the air.  It was also difficult to obtain and launch with this new system, because initially we didn’t have the required permits to operate it.

: Aunque nadie ha podido evadir la crisis de Covid-19, muchas ciudades y países han sido afectados de forma diferente por esta pandemia. Podría compartir brevemente cual es el estado actual del Perú, y como esta crisis ha afectado las operaciones de su empresa?

HR: El estado actual en Lima y en todo el Perú es de una cuarentena obligatoria desde el Domingo 15 de Marzo. Hasta ahora no hay fecha cierta para el levantamiento de la misma.  Esta medida implica que las personas NO pueden salir de casa, salvo para comprar alimentos, farmacia y bancos. Desde la segunda semana de cuarentena se implementó un Toque de Queda obligatorio, desde las 8pm hasta las 6am. Durante este periodo nadie puede salir de su casa. Esta medida luego se amplió de 6pm a 6am.  El impacto en las operaciones ha tenido que ver principalmente en la seguridad para poder transportar al personal a poder operar las cabinas. Hemos implementado un gran porcentaje de programas desde remoto utilizando Clean Feed. Esto también represento un reto ya que los conductores no contaban con los espacios e implementos adecuados para poder salir al aire. Estos implementos también nos fueron difíciles de conseguir, ya que las tiendas y los proveedores de los mismos no tenían permiso para poder operar.

 
: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered and what are you doing differently on the air these days?

HR: As I said previously, having the necessary tools to launch CleanFeed from our DJs’ homes was quite a challenge, but now everything has been properly set up, and the quality of our sound is very competitive.  In the future our goal is to invest in the equipment that our DJs need to do their shows from home (microphones, headphones, laptops, etc.).  On the air we’re doing things differently, and this is something that I’ve been pushing for quite some time (and is not very typical of the radio here), and that is to listen to people.  Listeners want to hear a few songs beyond our usual playlists, and sometimes radio doesn’t reciprocate.  So something that has really worked for us is song requests, and because our listeners usually understand the artistic identity of each of our stations, they tend to request songs that fit our image and sound good on the air.  And as we have responded to our listeners’ requests, the amount of messages through WhatsApp has increased by almost 200% during the shifts where we take requests.

: La gran mayoría de locutores a nivel mundial ahora trabajan desde su casa, incluyendo su equipo en Grupo RPP. Cuales son algunos de los retos presentados por esta nueva forma de trabajo, y que están haciendo diferente al aire?

HR: Tener los implementos necesarios y los espacios adecuados en las casas de los conductores fue un reto importante. A hoy ya contamos con prácticamente todos nuestros programas al aire desde remoto con una calidad de sonido muy competitiva.  En un futuro estamos viendo la posibilidad de invertir en mejorar los implementos para los conductores (micrófonos, audífonos, laptops, etc.).  AL AIRE lo que estamos haciendo diferente y que es algo que vengo empujando hace un tiempo (y no es muy de radio) es escuchar a la gente.  La gente quiere escuchar algunas canciones y la radio suele estar de espalda a esto. Lo que más nos ha funcionado son los pedidos musicales. Lo bueno es que la gente entiende la línea artística de la radio y suelen pedir canciones que suenan al aire o que están muy cercanas a la imagen artística de la marca. Y los hemos estado complaciendo, el flujo de mensajes vía WhatsApp ha aumentado en casi 200% en los horarios donde tomamos y complacemos pedidos musicales.

 
: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?

HR: Music requests have really worked out well for us. For our young-formatted stations like Studio92 (Hybrid CHR) and La Zona (Latin Urban/Reggaeton), the shows where we do requests have shown an audience increase of more than 200%.  For our adult formats like Oxígeno (80s, 90s and 2000s English & Spanish Hits) and Corazón (Spanish Romantic Ballads), at the beginning of the confinement we increased our on-air interventions, and we put more calls and listeners on the air, who simply wanted to share their fears about living in these conditions.  In social media we took a different approach: we stopped generating normal content for our shows, and instead we focused on content that’s entertaining and useful for our audience. Lives have become quite relevant.  Finally, we took the initiative of launching a Virtual Concert, that for the first time was broadcasted across all social media platforms and in all of our 7 brands at Grupo RPP, including both of our News/Talk stations, RPP and Capital. The show was also carried live on RPPTV and CAPITALTV cable channels. The concert had more than 20 local artists from different genres of music, and it reached more than half a million listeners; UNIDOS – the name of the show – managed to raise approximately S/ 100,000 (almost USD $30,000), money that was used to help low-income families with limited resources.  And we’re already planning UNIDOS 2 for the first week of May. By the way, it’s worth mentioning that our show was done before Lady Gaga’s concert!

: Hemos oído acerca de formas innovadoras que muchas emisoras han lanzado con el fin de atraer a sus oyentes. Cuáles han sido algunas de las tácticas mas exitosas – tanto al aire como en redes sociales – que han implementado para entretener a su audiencia? Y en general cuál ha sido la respuesta y aceptación del oyente?

HR: Los pedidos musicales es lo que mejor nos ha funcionado. En formatos como Studio92 y La Zona los bloques horarios donde tenemos pedidos han incrementado en flujo de respuesta de la audiencia arriba del 200%.  En formatos como Oxígeno y Corazón al inicio de la Cuarentena incrementamos la cantidad de locución por parte de los Conductores. Tomamos muchas llamadas del público que querían sentirse escuchados y requerían compartir sus miedos con respecto a la situación por la que estamos viviendo.  Sobre redes sociales tuvimos un giro, dejando de generar contenido de los programas, y virando hacia contenidos que entretengan o sea útiles para nuestra audiencia. Aquí los Lives cobraron mucha relevancia.  Finalmente tuvimos la iniciativa de lanzar un Concierto virtual que por primera vez se transmitió en todas las redes sociales de las 7 marcas del Grupo RPP, incluyendo RPP y Capital y fue transmitido también en directo en los canales de cable de RPPTV y CAPITALTV. El concierto tuvo la participación de 20 artistas locales de diferentes géneros y logro un alcance de más de medio millón de personas durante la hora de transmisión. UNIDOS (como se llamó el concierto) fue una iniciativa social que logro recaudar donaciones de la audiencia por 100 mil soles, los cuales hoy sirven para ayudar a familias de bajos recursos. La primera semana de mayo realizaremos UNIDOS 2. (el nuestro salió antes que el de Lady Gaga!)


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Jimmy Steal: VP of Brand & Content, 101.9 The Mix (Chicago)


: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Chicago is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?
 
JS: Like most major cities it’s been very intense, but I think over the last couple of weeks we’ve been turning the corner, and most people in Chicago are now talking more about how we’re going to re-open the city and adapting to “normal” life again.  As far as our daily operations go, I feel like I have been quite productive working from home because I’ve had less interruptions, and the same can be said about my team; they have been very efficient. Having said that, this hasn’t been an ideal situation, because it can’t just be a constant grind. You still need to foster a creative environment, have personal interaction, and keep the “culture” of your company alive, because you can’t find culture in a Powerpoint.  Let’s face it, great leaders and innovative thinkers will shine and rise to the moment during this situation, whereas those who are challenged under normal circumstances will simply be exposed.
 
: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered, and what are you doing differently on the air these days?
 
JS: Initially our challenges were more of a technical nature. Relating to your audience from your bedroom or the control room shouldn’t be an issue if you’re an effective communicator, because you’re either good at it, or not! Integrating our live breaks into our music and automated system and making it sound as crisp and “spontaneous” as possible has been our biggest challenge.  Our morning show has done an incredible job with some amazing guests, including the Head of Internal Medicine from Northwest Hospital. Some of the questions from our News guy have been included in the Governor’s daily press conference, so overall, I think we’ve achieved a great balance between entertainment and information, which is always necessary.
 
: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?
 
JS: We have opened up our airwaves more. We have an app within our station’s app, called “The Mix Mic,” where listeners can record themselves, so we’ve received a lot of “thank you” messages to the first responders, grocery workers, the medical community, etc., which in turn has allowed us to get more feedback and get a better sense of the pulse of the city.  Our digital output, such as Facebook Live, which we do twice a week, has been fantastic, because our on-air personalities are doing an incredible job of tending the “digital campfire” that everyone gathers around these days.  I strongly believe that if something comes out of this ordeal for our industry, it’s that it truly reinforces the importance of personalities, because if you don’t believe in personality radio, you really shouldn’t be in our business today.

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Toni Sanchez, Director of Programming, Los 40 & Los 40 Classic / Prisa, Spain (Director de Programación Los 40 & Los 40 Classic / Prisa, España)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Spain is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

TS: Our country, and Madrid, the nation’s capital, have been affected significantly, similar to Italy, which is the other country in Europe that has been hit the hardest.  Our company has suffered a major loss of advertising revenue, which correlates with our listening audience results and expectations.  We’ve had to become creative and work hand-in-hand with our sales team to incentivize clients, so that they remain trustful and continue to advertise their products and services on our stations. Sadly, not all clients are currently in a position to advertise, so we have to target other businesses that are more stable.

: Aunque nadie ha podido evadir la crisis de Covid-19, muchas ciudades y países han sido afectados de forma diferente por esta pandemia. Podría compartir brevemente cual es el estado actual de España, y como esta crisis ha afectado las operaciones de su empresa?

TS: Nuestro país y la capital Madrid, están siendo afectados de manera muy significativa, probablemente junto a Italia, el otro país mas damnificado de Europa. En nuestra empresa afecta muchísimo porque la pérdida automática de ingresos en la audiencia incide de manera rápida y directa en la cuenta de resultados.  Procuramos ser muy creativos y trabajar mano a mano con los equipos comerciales para incentivar al cliente para que siga confiando en nosotros como medio para exponer sus productos, pero no todos los clientes tienen ahora la capacidad/posibilidad de venta y por tanto también debemos apuntar a los sectores que sí operan con más o menos normalidad.


: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered and what are you doing differently on the air these days?

TS: The biggest challenge for our on-air teams, and I suppose for any other worker in any field, is adapting to this new environment.  For DJs it is particularly difficult because they rely and depend on sophisticated technical equipment that they may not have at home. However, our jocks are showing a tremendous amount of speed and creativity in adapting to this new situation, so they can continue to shine on the air. Since the beginning of the quarantine we have created strong emotional connections with our listeners.  Now especially we try to be sensitive and focus on topics that can be helpful, and our intent is to be a source of public service that complements our image of playing the hits at all times.  Now more than ever we need to provide entertainment and service.

: La gran mayoría de locutores a nivel mundial ahora trabajan desde su casa, incluyendo su equipo en Prisa. Cuales son algunos de los retos presentados por esta nueva forma de trabajo, y que están haciendo diferente al aire?

TS: El principal reto que tienen nuestros equipos y supongo que cualquier trabajador en cualquier sector es la capacidad de adaptarse a esta nueva situación. Para un locutor se hace especialmente difícil teletrabajar porque necesita unos medios técnicos extraordinarios y no siempre son de la calidad profesional a la que están acostumbrados, pero están demostrando ser veloces en la adaptación y muy creativos a la hora de lanzar sus mensajes al aire. Hemos procurado desde el inicio del confinamiento crear unos vínculos especiales con el oyente.  Expresamos sensibilidades distintas, acompañamos más que nunca y tratamos temas para ayudar.  Estamos intentando ser un servicio público como complemento a la radiación de los éxitos musicales del momento. Debemos ser más que nunca entretenimiento y servicio.


: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?

TS: Since the beginning of the confinement period we’ve understood that our listeners want to continue to have a special bonding with the artists.  Those who listen to the radio and are active in social media are closer to them now thanks to Los40.  We have also shown the artists the love of their fans through social media, in the most natural and organic way possible, also allowing them to share in a similar way, just like their fans (our listeners). We have knocked on the virtual doors of all types of national artists, including Rosalía, Pablo Alborán and Alejandro Sanz, and also international stars like Dua Lipa.  The response has been amazing.

: Hemos oído acerca de formas innovadoras que muchas emisoras han lanzado con el fin de atraer a sus oyentes. Cuáles han sido algunas de las tácticas mas exitosas – tanto al aire como en redes sociales – que han implementado para entretener a su audiencia? Y en general cuál ha sido la respuesta y aceptación del oyente?

TS: Hemos entendido desde el comienzo de la cuarentena que nuestros oyentes querían seguir teniendo un vínculo especial con los artistas. Esos que siguen en la radio y ven en redes sociales ahora están más cerca gracias a Los40.  Hemos querido enseñar a los artistas a sus fans a través de nuestras redes sociales del modo más natural que pueda existir, viéndoles convivir en una situación parecida a la de sus fans (nuestros oyentes). Hemos llamado a la Puerta virtual de artistas nacionales de todo tipo incluyendo a los tops Rosalía, Pablo Alborán o Alejandro Sanz y también a estrellas internacionales como Dua Lipa.  La respuesta ha sido magnífica.


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Raluca Opreanu: Program Director, Kiss FM (Romania)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Romania is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

RO: Although it’s been almost two months since we are living this nightmare, it’s still unbelievable. Romania was smart enough in my opinion to take the self-isolation measure very early, when we had only 17 cases of coronavirus, 5 of them being already cured/ healed. On March 11th, the schools were shut down and before the authorities decided to do the same with the restaurants, bars, cafes and parlors, most managers of different companies decided it's time to work from home, where possible. All non-on-air employees from Kiss FM started working from home on March, 11th. And we still are. Thank God for the internet speed and with Romania’s being one of the countries with the fastest and cheapest internet connection speed. Working from home proved to be a challenging process in the first weeks, all the eye-to-eye conversations transformed into messages and calls and emails, it was a little bit overwhelming. After a while, this became the new “normal.”

: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home, including most of yours at Kiss FM. Given this change, what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered? What are you doing differently on the air these days?

RO: Shortly after all non-on-air employees started working from home, the same decision was made for all of the off-primetime DJs. The only program that’s live, broadcasted from the studio is the morning show. This decision applied to all our radio stations: Kiss FM, Magic FM and Rock FM. The reason was connected to the risk of having to close our offices in case someone from the staff had been diagnosed with Covid-19. So, the less people go to the offices, the better chances we have to keep our radios on air. All the on-air colleagues have to travel to work by car, their own car, in order to avoid contact with other people; public transportation as an option was excluded from the start. DJs were also asked from the beginning to respect the self-isolation measure, so their daily routine includes the radio studio and home, no contact with other people.     

In terms of programs, the new environment dictated some necessary changes. We had to adapt our programs in order to reflect the Covid-19 evolutions. Therefore, we developed several features in the daily programs: reports from doctors in order to be able to communicate to our audience reliable information and dismiss the fake news that was all over the internet. We also have a special campaign meant to support all the non-profit organizations that wanted to help the old people, the doctors, the hospitals etc. Kiss FM is offering for free on-air commercials for all these organizations (gathering money for supporting old people, manufacturing face masks for the medical staff, delivering food for some, helping disadvantaged people, etc.).

: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?

RO: When it comes to challenges, well… having a simple contest on-air it became a great deal, since our DJs performed from home. Everything, though, is possible in 2020 due to the evolution of technology, so receiving, reading, and answering to messages is not a big thing nowadays and it allowed us to keep in touch with our audience. The live calls from our listeners in the morning show have always been a very important point of interest, and these days, more than ever. Not being able to have guests in our studio anymore, we moved to the social media platforms. So, for example the Romanian artist Inna joined the morning team there as did our listeners. Nonetheless, no matter how well the technology has allowed us to overcome the self-isolation, the DJs miss the studio since that is their second home. They miss the live performance feeling you can only get by doing a show from the studio. Whereas other people may have discovered the benefit of working from home, our DJs are eager to get back and to return to the studio.

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Claudia Velasco: Marketing Director, Caracol Radio, Colombia (Gerente de Mercadeo, Caracol Radio, Colombia)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Colombia is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

CV: As of right now, April 30th, we have 6,207 cases nationwide. Out of those, 1,411 have recovered and 278 have died, and most of the cases, 2,408 of them, have taken place in Bogotá.  To get a better understanding of how this situation is affecting our sales efforts, last month we reached 70% of our budget, and this month it looks like it’s going to be between 50% and 60%.  Overall listening for music stations is down from 74% to 71%, but as expected, News/Talk stations have had a sizeable increase.  The country has been under obligatory confinement since March 20th.

: Aunque nadie ha podido evadir la crisis de Covid-19, muchas ciudades y países han sido afectados de forma diferente por esta pandemia.  Podría compartir brevemente cual es el estado actual de Colombia, y como esta crisis ha afectado las operaciones de su empresa?

CV: Hasta hoy, 30 de Abril llevamos 6,207 casos a nivel nacional, entre ellos hemos tenido 1,411 recuperados y 278 fallecidos, y la mayoría de los casos, 2,408, se concentran en Bogotá.  Para entender el grado de afectación, el mes pasado llegamos al 70% de cumplimiento del presupuesto, y este mes se proyecta  entre el 50% y el 60%.  La audiencia general bajo en penetración del 74% pasa al 71%,  bajan las emisoras musicales y sube mucho la audiencia de las informativas.  El país ha estado en cuarentena  obligatoria desde  el 20 de marzo.


: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered and what are you doing differently on the air these days?

CV: Some of the on-air talent from our stations is now working from home, whereas the rest of the office personnel are 100% from home. For our morning shows this has presented some challenges, but overall everything is working out fine.  We’ve created special programs, both in our News/Talk as well as our music stations, with artists broadcasting directly from their homes. We also had a 10 hour fun/humor marathon, and W Radio, one of our spoken properties, had a journalist during two weekends, becoming a DJ from the balcony of his house, and it included some of his neighbors. We’re also doing a lot live.

: La gran mayoría de locutores a nivel mundial ahora trabajan desde su casa, incluyendo su equipo en Caracol Radio.  Cuales son algunos de los retos presentados por esta nueva forma de trabajo, y que están haciendo diferente al aire?

CV: Las emisoras están trabajando con parte del equipo desde las casas, lo administrativo casi al 100% desde la casa.  A los programas de la mañana les cuesta un poco más de trabajo, pero en general ha funcionado bastante bien.  Se han hecho  varios especiales tanto en habladas como en musicales, con los artistas/cantantes desde sus casas, tambien hicimos un maratón de humor de 10 horas,  W Radio durante dos fines de semana  tuvo un periodista  haciendo de DJ  desde el balcón de su casa y con amplificación a sus vecinos.  Se han hecho muchísimos live.


: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?

CV: We currently have a marketing campaign called “En todo Momento Más Compañía (At all Times More Company).”  We also created a new show “El Encierro (The Confinement)” and we have official newscasts about COVID-19, in Caracol Radio, our flagship News/Talk station, as well as in all of our music stations.  We’re also working on developing strategic plans for all of our brands.

: Hemos oído acerca de formas innovadoras que muchas emisoras han lanzado con el fin de atraer a sus oyentes. Cuáles han sido algunas de las tácticas mas exitosas – tanto al aire como en redes sociales – que han implementado para entretener a su audiencia? Y en general cuál ha sido la respuesta y aceptación del oyente?

CV: Tenemos una campaña publicitaria llamada “En todo Momento Más Compañía.” Hemos creado nuevos programas como “El Encierro” y tenemos informativos oficiales sobre el coronavirus hechos por Caracol Radio en todas nuestras emisoras musicales.  Estamos trabajando en los planes estratégicos de todas las marcas.


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Beth Bacall: Radio Personality, Star 99.1 (NYC) & 104.7 The Fish (Atlanta)

: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered, and what are you doing differently on the air these days?
 
BB: I’m grateful to find connection whether it’s a set up in my office or a broadcast studio I just sprayed down with Lysol. I’m currently working both.  However when you are working at home and there’s technical trouble you quickly put on an engineer’s hat which tends to be a little big on me. The absence of phone calls strengthens my focus on effective, local storytelling. I’ll seek these stories from listeners using social media. There are a lot of good news stories to share; you just need to find them.

: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your audience and what has been the general response from the listener?
 
BB: Everyone wants to be heard. Being available on the air and on social media is critical, and offering access – whether it’s high-fiving the volunteers making face masks at SMAH (Serving Masks for Area Hospitals) to hand delivering board games to families in quarantine. Thanks to a station ‘wish’ fund we’ve been able to create moments called Acts of Love that assist and aid local do-gooders and those who have lost their jobs. You can tell that listening patterns have changed, station apps and Alexa have been great tools along with daily Facebook Live appointments and Friday night Instagram artist chats. I’m just about to start a listener Zoom. On the air I’ll share a slice of the conversation, something relevant. On Zoom we will have a chat and a scavenger hunt. smiley

: We’re all living in very uncertain times, what do you recommend your fellow jocks should do — here at home and around the world — to be that special companion and still remain upbeat & entertaining on the air?

BB: It’s an honor to be a voice especially for such a time as this. Personalities need to take care of themselves and then be ready to perform and serve when it’s show time. Prepare. Stay relevant, remember every break matters. Balance out content so emotions flow with the tone and tempo of the song you are introducing. Live in the now with your listener no matter where you are broadcasting from. Be real and share your situation if possible. Me too moments matter. Keep shining the spotlight on the listener, brag on the heroes, empathize with those who are hurting, and thank the first responders.

: The general consensus is that COVID-19 is changing our way of life, and many industries, including ours, are being affected by this pandemic. In your opinion, how will this change being on the air?

BB: Great personalities will be needed even more than ever. Listeners need best friends to find their new normal with. More voice-tracking will happen as so many talented people have been making it sound so good right now with minimal resources; station locations will shrink. Revenue will continue to challenge budgets and influence programming. The audience has already changed and will stay different until the next school year starts, and that’s a turning point for most demos. You’ll need to really decide and stick with what you want to be known for, and that might change as this COVID-19 continues to unfold. I’m thinking about how listeners are inside smart homes and behind the digital dashboards. Utilizing social media so it interacts with what I am doing on the air, sometimes in the moment is what I have been intentional about growing.

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Pati Perkasa: CEO & Founder, INSTEREO Radio Consultant (Indonesia)

:  While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Indonesia is currently going through and how this is affecting radio’s day-to-day operations?

PP: Like other countries in Asia, Indonesia’s radio industry is affected because of the virus since the advertising clients are holding down their budgets due to the corona virus, since we have lockdowns in many big cities in Indonesia. Especially during this Ramadhan Month, which should be the biggest revenue gathering month in Indonesia, the radio ad expenditures have dropped compared to last year’s Ramadhan because of the virus. This is a very tough time for radio in Indonesia.

:  The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home. Is this the case in Indonesia too? What are stations doing differently on the air these days?

PP: Yes, many of the radio station shows in Indonesia are now broadcasting from home, just like any other countries. There are many radio station shows still broadcasting from the studio, but mainly now all presenters are now working from home.

: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that stations have used to interact with their listeners? What has been the general response from the listeners?

PP: Many radio stations in Indonesia are now are leveraging their content through their social media and radio apps, like quizzes, talk show, games, workshops, etc. Many radio stations are now using Instagram Live as their channel to interact with their listeners. Since the habits of radio listenership are changing due to the virus effects, many radio stations try to keep up their promotion through social media, especially Instagram and Facebook.

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Ievgen Boginia: Program Director, Lounge FM (Kyiv, Ukraine)

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Ukraine is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

IB: The current situation of Сovid-19 in Ukraine at the moment (04/30/2020): there are 10,406 cases in the country, of which 1,238 recovered and 261 people died (data from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine). At the same time, public transport does not work in the country, including buses, metro, and intercity communication. All institutions are closed except supermarkets and pharmacies. On the street and in public places, you cannot be without a mask and be in groups of more than two people. Everyone must have proof of identity in their possession when they are out in public.

Our government took decisive measures to socially distance the population before the first patients began to get sick, so at the moment the situation is developing predictably and much less seriously than in Western Europe, which gives us hope that we will begin to restore business activity around May 12 and will be able to quickly return to normal life.

For us in the radio industry, most of our advertising contracts have been suspended due to the quarantine. Many Ukrainian companies that worked in the very difficult conditions of the war before the crisis could not stay afloat when quarantine began. Therefore, we are forced to switch to a mode of maximum savings and cost optimization in order to preserve broadcasting and employees in the conditions of limited monetization of radio stations.

However, despite this decline in advertising, we opened our broadcast to support business in Ukraine and also opened free advertising slots for social initiatives of the state and business aimed at solving problems related to Covid-19.

: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home, including it sounds like many at The UMH Group. Given this change, what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered?  What are you doing differently on the air these days?

IB: Our production process is very technically well organized and we can provide broadcasting from home. The only exceptions are the hosts and the technical department, which switched to the duty mode. Therefore, the changes associated with quarantine in the country did not affect the work process and the final product.

: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners.  What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?

IB: We are using this situation to focus even more on the development of digital direction and online broadcasting of our radio stations.  We had already implemented mobile apps and adaptive websites of our radio stations, and the pandemic situation only made us step up work in this direction. Surprisingly, since the beginning of the quarantine, we register that online listening to our radio stations has grown by about 15-20 percent. Our task now is to maintain the attention of our audience, as we expect that if the situation persists, the traffic of our radio stations may begin to decline.

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Jimmy Gonzalez: Entercom Captain, Spanish Formats, and Brand Manager, KMVK (Dallas) 

: While no one has been spared from the Covid-19 crisis, countries and cities have been impacted differently by this pandemic. Can you give us a snapshot of what Dallas is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?
 
JG: I am proud to say, we are getting the job done! This crisis has pushed our creativity, technical ability and overall desire to deliver a great product that informs and entertains, which has helped people stay connected to the community. Our hyper local approach has proven to deliver the best ratings the station has ever seen, and we have been able to maintain our TLH. Kudos to the team.  
 
: The vast majority of on-air talent around the globe is now working from home.  What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered, and what are you doing differently on the air these days?
 
JG: The only real challenges have been occasional disruptions in either Wi-Fi at home or issues with our network at the station facilities.  Overall, the issues have been far and few between thanks to our incredible IT/Engineering department. Losing the request line for contesting and engagement outside of morning drive has also been a bit difficult to adjust to. I have challenged our jocks to find other ways to engage by either calling listeners and/or utilizing direct messaging/WhatsApp.  
 
: We’ve heard many stories of innovative ways that radio stations have devised to stay engaged with their listeners. What have been the most successful tactics—both on-air and via social media—that you’ve used to interact with your listeners? What has been the general response from the listener?
 
JG: Our extended use of social media as a brand extension has complimented what we are doing over the air.   I hate to say it this way because it downplays our effort to some extent, but it has been business as usual.  We are just doing what we do every day from different locations. Haven't we always been able to operate remotely? It is kind of in our DNA.


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Thank you very much to all of our participants for their insights, and if you have any stories from your market that you'd like to share, we'd love to hear from you at info@GlobalMediaRCP.com! Stay safe and healthy!