Coronavirus blue

Noted industry consultants Alan Burns and Fred Jacobs share their thoughts on radio’s role during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Burns penned an article shared with Inside Radio with some thoughts on what the audience needs from radio during this unprecedented moment in time.

“This is the time in which radio stations need to stand-up and be the voice of their community,” Burns writes. “Radio’s defining strengths are being local and serving their community. We need to be the trusted friend that we have worked so hard to become for these listeners.”

Burns includes 10 key elements that will help radio be an integral part of the listeners’ world. The bullet points include: Local, Information, Companionship, Trust, Relate, Engage, Entertain, Upbeat, Listening Habits and Innovate.

“Few moments in our careers can be as rewarding and satisfying as being of service and helping others during a crisis,” Burns continues. “This crisis is (we hope) a once-in-a-lifetime event, and a time to define yourself and your station. It’s your time to shine. Remember that listeners derive huge emotional benefits from radio.”

At its simplest, Burns says listeners only need three things: Comfort and Companionship; Mood Service – to feel better; and Local Information.

Fred Jacobs revisited some of the questions posed in Jacobs Media’s recent Tech Survey in light of the coronavirus crisis.

When asked to respond to the prompt, “I generally prefer to communicate via text rather than speaking with people over the phone or in person,” 45% of female respondents chose “strongly agree” or “agree,” compared to 31% of male respondents. Overall 39% either “strongly agreed” or “agreed.”

In a blog post Jacobs wondered what the graph would look like if this question was asked today, in light of social distancing and quarantine. “How has the coronavirus crisis altered our desires for human contact and conversation – hearing the sound of someone's voice, or looking them right in the eye?” he asks.

Jacobs also highlights the relationship between the listening audience and the radio station they choose. The recent Techsurvey found that seven in ten respondents feel a connection to their home station. “A familiar, warm voice on the radio can be a soothing, familiar, and friendly presence for people well outside their comfort zones,” Jacobs writes. “At a time when so many of the familiar things are on hold or simply gone, a favorite radio station is still there – through thick and thin – providing companionship, empathy, and a sense of continuity to our disrupted lives.”