For decades, Americans have turned to radio for breaking news and emergency information during uncertain times. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, listeners are again tuning in to their local stations for news that is helping them keep safe but also for the human connection that radio provides.
"The thing that's impressed me the most," KNX News Radio brand manager Ken Charles told the Los Angeles Times, "is the number of calls coming in from listeners saying, 'Thank you for being out there and doing what you do.'"
"What people are looking for even more than music to comfort them is connection, and that's what they get from the voices and the personalities they know," added KUSC President Judy McAlpine.
WDRV-FM sent a letter to their listeners, thanking their community for tuning in and telling listeners “You can count on us to balance the information you need with the best music ever made – all day, every day – presented by the hosts you have known and trusted for so many years.”
Many stations are running hotlines or supply drives to support essential workers in their communities. KRLL-FM Executive Producer Jeff Garcia says, "The Cruz Show has recruited some amazing people for our on and off-air efforts, from doctors and therapists to comedians to lift spirits, we are using our airtime to inform, educate and uplift our listeners through this highly disruptive crisis."
These aren’t the only examples of local stations rising to the occasion and supporting listeners in their time of need. Stations across the country are providing these community connections, now more important than ever as listeners must distance themselves from their friends and neighbors. Radio stations are there, speaking directly to their listeners, bringing not only news but the comfort of knowing no one is alone in this.
More than 2.47 million American jobs depend on broadcasting, and the local broadcast radio and television industry - and the businesses that depend on it - generate $1.17 trillion annually for the nation's economy.