Even as they watch ad revenues plummet, local radio stations are still on the air trying to find ways to use the airwaves to help listeners during the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s a daunting task, particularly for locally owned stations that don’t have the deep financial backing of national conglomerates. But for the Dot Com Plus stations and FMTALK 106.5, keeping listeners informed has — for now — taken a back seat to being able to make sure the financial ends meet.
“We’re finding ways to be plugged into the community. We don’t have as much airtime being used for advertising …” Dot Com Plus programming director Tim Camp said wistfully, his voice trailing off. “No one can hardly blame them.”
What Camp’s stations — local favorites WZEW, WNSP, THE CRAB and The Soul of Mobile — are doing is incorporating more news listeners can use as it relates to the pandemic.
“On 92ZEW and other formats, we’ve increased reports to eight a day. They’re very local updates about things that are going on, testing and where you can go,” he said.
ZEW DJs have also participated in efforts to read children’s stories online to help frazzled parents dealing with kids who will likely be home for close to five months. This effort was put together along with Mobile Public Library.
Other efforts have included “Light it up Mobile,” which urged listeners to go to area hospitals at specific times to turn on headlights and flashers in support of health providers; various ministers broadcasting words of encouragement and support on The Soul; and having food trucks come to the station each week and encouraging listeners to drop by to buy something.
Camp said the crisis and business shutdown is obviously taking a toll on the stations financially, and he hopes people will remember to support them when things return to normal.
On FMTALK, station manager Sean Sullivan said the all-talk station is also finding ways to add more content covering the story and providing needed information to listeners.
“We’re running programming specific to the local fight against coronavirus with 40-plus hours a week of locally produced radio shows. We are covering the local story from multiple angles. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m., Cam Marston hosts ‘What’s Working Special Edition,’ talking with local and national experts about how small businesses can navigate the new economy,” Sullivan said. “On ‘Mobile Mornings’ and ‘Midday Mobile’ we are interviewing local health care experts, government officials plus locals to get their stories about how COVID-19 has affected their lives and businesses.”
Sullivan says there are some specific ways listeners can help FMTALK weather the COVID-19 storm as well.
“As for what our listeners can do for us … continue to shop with our local advertisers and keep telling us their stories and asking questions on air and online,” he said.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).