In the midst of a pandemic, governors around the country have been reopening local economies and causing concern for many health experts, including members of the White House coronavirus task force who testified before a Senate committee this week.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has long warned about the risk of pandemics. He calls the effort to reopen a “hodgepodge,” though he believes remaining locked down while we wait for a vaccine is not an option. First and foremost, he laments a lack of national leadership, frank talk about the tradeoffs ahead, and a clear direction in the fight against COVID-19.
Local stations have cut down on D.J.s coming to the studio, but playlists and personalities are holding strong as small stations get a chance to build bigger audiences.
“Greetings, virus people!”
The on-air patter was hardly what you would expect from a radio D.J. addressing his listeners during a pandemic last week. But Ken Freedman, the station manager and program director at Jersey City’s WFMU 91.1 and 91.9 FM — broadcasting to the greater New York City area, “Your station from the epicenter!” — sounded practically chipper.
Like the rest of the country’s noncommercial, community radio programmers, Freedman has been forced into hastily improvising a response to the growing spread of Covid-19. Staffed largely by volunteer D.J.s taking time away from paying jobs as teachers, bartenders and everything in between, these scrappy local stations have had little in the way of either precedent or outside resources to fall back on. Operating independently of both National Public Radio’s networked affiliates, as well as the rigidly formatted music stations owned by corporate chains like iHeartMedia, they’ve been left to figure out the changed media landscape for themselves. Some have adopted a “keep calm and carry on” philosophy. Others have taken a decidedly different tack. Continue reading →