Broadcast Public Service

April 2020

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Radio and television broadcasters serve local communities every day. Submit your station's stories to Suzie Raven.

Broadcast Public Service Newsletter: COVID-19 Special Issue

In times of emergency, Americans turn to their local radio and television stations for the most trusted and reliable information. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Despite facing tremendous economic challenges, broadcasters are committed to staying on the air to provide critical information and a source of comfort and entertainment for those isolated in their homes.

Stations are leveraging technology to broadcast remotely in the interest of social distancing, building make-shift studios in living rooms, basements and even closets. These creative technical solutions allow broadcasters to cover breaking news, special reports and town halls related to the coronavirus. They have also created dedicated webpages, carried live press conferences and launched daily podcasts to keep Americans informed about the rapidly changing situation in their communities.

NAB is providing tools and resources, including PSAs from NAB, the American Red Cross and Ad Council, in the NAB Coronavirus Response Toolkit. In the first 15 days after the NAB launched the PSA campaign on COVID-19, radio and TV stations donated more than $28 million worth of airtime and ran nearly 106,000 PSAs aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. Many radio and TV stations have developed and aired their own PSAs featuring on-air talent.

In addition to providing critical content, stations continue to support their communities in impactful ways. Broadcasters are airing educational content in partnership with local school districts so children can continue learning; supporting small businesses by hosting gift card drives; promoting local job fairs; and providing food for neighbors affected by the pandemic.

Here are examples of how local stations are keeping the public informed. Many additional stories can be found here.

Viewers Turn to TV and Radio During COVID-19 Crisis

Detroit Stations Air Governor’s Town Hall

All Detroit TV stations have banded together to broadcast “The Governor’s Town Hall” event featuring Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, scheduled to air live from 7 – 8 p.m. on April 2.  Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other leaders will answer questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include hospital preparedness, unemployment benefits and school closures. It will air on Graham Media Group’s NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, Fox-owned WJBK-TV, CBS-owned WWJ-TV, Scripps’ ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV, Scripps’ MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYD-T, CW-owned WKBD-TV, and PBS-owned WTVS-TV. The town hall was offered to all broadcasters in Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters.

Georgia Broadcasters Air Town Hall With Governor

Radio and television broadcasters across Georgia aired “The Governor’s Statewide Town Hall” on March 26 with the Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and members of his COVID-19 Task Force.

The program, which additionally streamed on more than 250 stations, originated from Cox’s ABC affiliate WSB-TV Atlanta with Gov. Kemp. Members of the task force appeared on Meredith’s CBS affiliate WGCL-TV, TEGNA’s NBC affiliate WXIA-TV, Fox-owned WAGA-TV, Univision’s WUVG-TV and Georgia Public Broadcasting. The Georgia Association of Broadcasters spearheaded much of the coordination efforts.

WFSB Three-Hour Town Hall Covers Coronavirus in Connecticut

Meredith Broadcasting’s CBS affiliate WFSB-TV Hartford, Conn., aired a three-hour special on COVID-19 on March 19. U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Ned Lamont and local and state health officials participated via video conference calls.

The question-and-answer session focused on access to food, supplies and medical assistance; what to do when experiencing symptoms; and the state’s overall response to the pandemic.

Arizona Broadcasters Hold COVID-19 Town Hall

Television and radio broadcasters across Arizona are holding a virtual town hall with Gov. Doug Ducey on April 2 to address questions about the COVID-19 crisis. The hour-long event, which broadcast with support from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, aired commercial-free on more than 50 local TV and radio stations statewide. In addition to Gov. Ducey, the panel featured Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona National Guard Major General Michael McGuire and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. Participants answered virtual questions from viewers and listeners.

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Broadcasters Donate Millions in Airtime

Broadcasters Donate $28 Million to Fight COVID-19 Spread

Broadcasters have donated over $28 million worth of airtime to NAB-produced COVID-19 spots in the first two weeks after NAB launched a public service announcements campaign. The nearly 106,000 PSAs help educate on preventing the spread of the virus. Many radio and TV stations have also developed and aired their own PSAs featuring on-air talent.

Radio One Commits to Donate 10,000 PSAs

Radio One Indianapolis has committed to airing 10,000 PSAs to help local citizens and community organizations during the COVID-19 crisis. PSAs must be community driven, diverse in nature and contain resources that serve the public.

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Broadcasters Keep Virtual School in Session

WMC Offers Lessons for Kids

Gray’s NBC affiliate WMC-TV Memphis has partnered with Shelby County Schools (SCS) to offer broadcast programming and accompanying digital resources to support continued at-home learning and provide greater access to educational resources. SCS is Tennessee’s largest public school district and among the 25 largest public school districts in the United States. During the school closure, more than 113,000 students are home and many have limited access to technology or internet.

D.C. Broadcasters Help Educate Students During Shutdown

MyNetworkTV owned and operated WDCA-TV Washington, D.C., is broadcasting public school lessons to assist children receiving remote and online education due to COVID-19. The grade-specific lessons are intended to help offset education access disparities, as roughly 30 percent of students in D.C. lack home wifi access. TEGNA’s CBS affiliate WUSA-TV is also promoting the initiative on their 9 a.m. morning program.

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Covering the Story While Social Distancing

Broadcaster Creativity on Display for COVID-19 Coverage

Broadcasters have been leveraging technology to continue broadcasting during the COVID-19 outbreak. The creative solutions used to stay on the air have been nothing short of extraordinary and demonstrate broadcasters commitment to . Broadcast engineers and technologists are "MacGyver’ing" solutions to ensure that the public is protected, informed, and in this environment of social distancing, comforted.

WNNX-FM Stays On-Air Amid Coronavirus Shut Down

Cumulus’ WNNX-FM Atlanta took extraordinary measures in mid-March to stay on the air and keep listeners informed after the station was closed to protect employees from coronavirus. The team behind WNNX-FM’s morning show, “Bailey and Southside,” broadcast live from host Jason Bailey’s living room. The team has kept broadcast the show from the remote location since March 16 and plans to continue.

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Keeping News Local During the Outbreak

KIRO Launches Podcast and Joins With Hubbard During Coronavirus

Bonneville’s KIRO-FM Seattle launched on March 24 “COVID-19: Seattle Podcast” to provide daily updates for Washington state residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this project,” said KIRO Radio Program Director Bryan Buckalew. “I think [on air personality] Dave Ross, with his decades of news experience, and Aaron Granillo, with his reporter’s sensibility, are uniquely capable of examining the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it expands in Washington state and across the nation.”

KIRO-FM has also partnered with Hubbard Radio’s KQMV-FM, KWRM-FM and KNUC-FM Seattle to offer expanded news coverage. KIRO broadcasts an hourly news update regarding COVID-19 on the each of Hubbard stations and encourages listeners to listen to music programming as a mental break from news coverage during a stressful time.

KING-TV Pivots Programming to Increase Coverage of COVID-19

TEGNA’s NBC affiliate KING-TV Seattle has changed a weekday 4 p.m. lifestyle program to news coverage, in response to a growing need for information regarding novel coronavirus. The station also dedicated their website to promoting “Facts Not Fear” about the virus.

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Broadcasters Assist Those Imapcted by COVID-19

WOFL Raises $80,000 for Florida Families Impacted by COVID-19

Fox owned and operated WOFL-TV Orlando, Fla., raised $80,000 for a local food bank to help families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Feeding Families in Crisis” fundraiser helps Second Harvest Food Bank, which collects and redistributes food donates throughout central Florida. The station highlighted the importance of donating, especially after schools were closed due to the virus, and aired interviews from food bank staff to encourage donations.

KSOS-FM Donates 23,000 Sandwiches to Families During Coronavirus School Shut Down

Faith Communication’s KSOS-FM Las Vegas partnered with a local nonprofit to donate 23,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to families in the Las Vegas area on March 29. The partnership comes at a particularly important time, as many students who rely on free and reduced priced school lunches have been moved to distant learning due to COVID-19.

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NAB Coronavirus Toolkit