During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, local radio and television stations are serving surging audiences with the breaking news, emergency updates and public health information they need. In special programming events, broadcasters across the country have hosted town halls to connect their communities with leadership to help them understand the crisis.
All Detroit TV stations banded together to broadcast “The Governor’s Town Hall” event featuring Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on April 2. Whitmer and other leaders answered questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including hospital preparedness, unemployment benefits and school closures.The special aired on WDIV-TV, WJBK-TV, WWJ-TV, WXYZ-TV, WMYD-TV, WKBD-TV and WTVS-TV and was offered to all local stations in Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters.
WKYT-TV in Lexington, Ky., aired a one-hour special entitled “Coronavirus: A Community Conversation” on March 16 as a part of the station’s on-going coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following day, WKYT aired a one-on-one special interview with Gov. Andy Beshear about steps being taken to protect Kentuckians. The COVID-19 special featured medical experts, politicians and community leaders, who answered questions regarding the impact of COVID-19.
The station has also developed a new nightly segment, “Breaking Down Coronavirus,” to highlight the effects on the community from varying perspectives, including the homeless population, laundromats, churches and many others.
Radio and television broadcasters across Georgia aired the one-hour “The Governor’s Statewide Town Hall” on March 26 with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and members of his COVID-19 Task Force. The program originated from WSB-TV Atlanta . Members of the task force appeared on WGCL-TV, WXIA-TV, WAGA-TV, WUVG-TV and Georgia Public Broadcasting. General John King, Georgia’s State Insurance and Fire Safety commissioner, answered questions in Spanish on Univision Atlanta. More than 250 stations, including several Spanish language broadcasters, streamed the program. The Georgia Association of Broadcasters spearheaded much of the coordination efforts for broadcast and streaming.
WOWK-TV Charleston, W.V., hosted a virtual town hall on March 19 with Gov. Jim Justice regarding the state’s response to COVID-19. Hosted by WOWK Anchor Mark Curtis, the virtual town hall posed questions to the governor and other state officials. The town hall was broadcast on WDVM-TV, WTRF-TV, WBOY-TV and WVNS-TV.
Washington, D.C.’s WJLA will host a live, virtual town hall with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday, April 14. Viewers are invited to ask him about COVID-19 and its impact on Virginia and the nation using the hashtag #NorthamTownHall on social media. Northam will answer constituents’ questions on ABC7 News’ 4 p.m. show.
Tune into your local radio and television stations to hear from the policymakers guiding your community. To share how local stations are helping you, please write to us at WeAreBroadcasters@nab.org.
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.