Public Radio Responds To Coronavirus

Apr 10, 2020
Originally published on April 10, 2020 11:42 am

NPR and local public radio stations have shifted resources to inform the public about the coronavirus pandemic, providing vital information — from the international and national perspective as well as the local news in each community.

Public Radio Stations Delivering Vital News & Information on COVID-19

This is only a sampling of the special coverage and programming from public radio stations around the country; we will be adding more to this list as we get more information.

  • North State Public Radio (Chico, CA) is producing a 30-minute weeknight show that is focused on the North State's response to COVID-19. The show features interviews with health workers, and officials from schools, government, and social service groups. The station is also providing daily updates on the pandemic with the latest news and health information from county, state and federal health authorities.

  • CapRadio (Sacramento, CA) is providing its breaking news coverage and daily talk show, Insight with Beth Ruyak, to other California public radio stations. Its state capital coverage on coronavirus is distributed to nearly every public radio station in California through its statewide network. Further, it has taken the lead in providing anchored special coverage of Governor Newsom's press conferences and other updates of statewide significance. CapRadio's daily coronavirus newsletter provides updates on the pandemic with a distinctly local view. Through Hearken, they are answering hundreds of important coronavirus questions from the community on-air and on-line.

  • KQED (San Francisco, CA) is offering two blogs: The Your Questions Answered blog is a forum for people to submit questions and then receive updatable responses; and the COVID-19 blog, which is updated regularly with the latest national and local information.
  • Connecticut Public has a COVID-19 resource page pinned to the top of CT Public's social media accounts. A daily email newsletter featuring links to state and other relevant public health authorities.
  • WBEZ (Chicago, IL) is introducing a four-week weekend special starting Saturday, April 11 hosted by Justin Kaufmann, this live, two-hour call-in program will invite members of the community to share accounts of how they're living through the coronavirus in Chicago. The Vocalo team has started to provide new resources for Chicagoans in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Rocio Santos from Domingos en Vocalo and collaborator Gisela Orozco partnered with South Side Weekly to translate their South Side COVID19 resource guide into Spanish. The team also launched the Daily Digest: Do Good blog for ideas and inspiration of good things to do for the community.

  • Iowa Public Radio launched a COVID-19 blog, and is producing a daily COVID-19 newsletter. The talk show Talk of Iowa is presenting two shows a week with material for homeschooling – one on wildlife and one on Iowa History. They also had a call-in segment on the show River to River that featured two physicians fielding COVID-19 questions.
  • KWIT - Siouxland Public Media (Sioux City, IA) has started to serve newscasts in Spanish thanks to a partnership with another non-profit in our city, also hosts COVID-19 information in Somali and Oromo.
  • New Orleans Public Radio WWNO (New Orleans, LA) has created a special Coronavirus in Louisiana: What You Need to Know Today section.

  • WGBH (Boston, MA) is producing a daily COVID-19 podcast and radio show called In It Together. It is a locally focused call-in radio program that includes interviews with experts, headline news and information.

  • WKAR (East Lansing, MI) launched COVID-19: Answers and Insight with host Shawn Turner who, together with health experts, examines the coronavirus crisis in Michigan. WKAR's radio news team regularly updates a COVID-19 Blog on the station website, which is translated into Spanish. The station's weekly Michigan-focused politics show, Off the Record, is now focusing on COVID-19.

  • New Hampshire Public Radio launched a new show, New Hampshire Calling, that gives people across the state an opportunity to catch up on the COVID-19 news, as well as to share their feelings, coping tactics, life hacks – be it a joke, a story or a song. The Exchange, the station's daily morning call-in program, has been devoted to covering the coronavirus crisis since March 10, featuring discussions with officials and experts. Their digital team launched a live blog to cover the coronavirus outbreak 24/7, as well as a daily afternoon newsletter that gathers all the threads of our coverage, and they created an open survey to which nearly 400 people from all over the state have responded.

  • WUNC-FM (Chapel Hill, NC) launched Tested, the station's first daily news podcast. Focused on the impact of COVID-19 in North Carolina. Its ten-minute episodes run each day and feature stories and reports from the WUNC news team and contributions from experts. The podcast seeks to help North Carolinians better understand the implications of the coronavirus across the state and share their own experiences.

  • Oregon Public Broadcasting is covering the disparate impact that COVID-19 and economic impacts is having on minorities, immigrants and communities of color. In addition, they are translating stories into Spanish for distribution on social media and by partner organizations.PSAs throughout the day on topics such as how to wash hands and practice social distancing.
  • WLVT (Bethlehem, PA) is producing a daily 30-minute broadcast for television and radio that airs seven days a week, focused on the impact of coronavirus in the Lehigh Valley. The program is also being live-streamed via Facebook. Every episode is available on the website at PBS39.org/Community.
  • KUOW (Seattle, WA) is posting live updates about the coronavirus online, in both English and Spanish. The daily talk show, The Record, conducted interviews with those closest to the crisis including listener questions for Governor Jay Inslee immediately following his announcement to begin state restrictions. KUOW produced a local daily news podcast, Seattle Now, which has given contextual analysis of the crisis every day since its launch on March 2.
  • KNKX (Tacoma, WA) is hosting a weekly podcast, 'Transmission' about COVID-19 and its effects on the city and region. Compiled an online list with local and national resources and is updating an interactive map of COVID-19 cases across the county.
  • KPBX/Spokane Public Radio (Spokane). Locally advertised the MPR two-day live call in special to help connect the Spokane community to medical experts. Conducted a Q&A with a local Spokane Public Health official about COVID-19. Launched a station-produced newsletter to update the local community on COVID-19 news.
  • Houston Public Media's bi-weekly, live call-in show, Houston Matters, has shifted to focus on the coronavirus. They are also offering a dedicated coronavirus news and resource page.

  • Vermont Public Radio (Burlington, VT) posted an updated programming schedule for COVID-19 special coverage and has a section online specifically with COVID-19 news. VPR teamed up with Vermont Community Foundation to donate 50% of any station individual donation to the VCF's VT COVID-19 Response Fund. Vermont Edition has expanded to two hours per day to amplify more listener voices and bring Vermonters together. The additional hour will focus on listener experiences, but also resources and helpful diversions such as music and culture. On Friday mornings at 9 a.m., Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb will host a live call-in program focused on Vermonters' stories and experiences.
  • Wisconsin Public Radio (Statewide) is using a "WHYsconsin?" to solicit questions about COVID-19 and related topics. They have received more than 400 questions, and have answered on-air both in stories and call-ins, and online as well. Continually updating a COVID-19 news page on their homepage. The music team is curating content to help their community members feel calm during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Local Public Radio Stations Provide Critical Support for Listeners & Local Music Economies

This is only a sampling of the special coverage and programming from public radio stations around the country; we will be adding more to this list as we get more information.

  • WLRH (Huntsville, AL) created a 'Classical Storytime' hour for children every Thursday during their mid-morning classical music program, Morning Blend. The station also has a resource page for students and families.
  • KUSC (Los Angeles, CA) and KDFC (San Francisco, CA) launched At Home with Gustavo, a new one-hour program featuring handpicked music from the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel. Gustavo joins KUSC's Brian Lauritzen to play his selections and discuss why listening to music is important at a time of social isolation.
  • Indie 102.3 (Denver, CO) is helping artists by posting their living room video shows on the station website and conducting interviews with them by Skype. The station has also posted a Musician's Resource Guide to help artists identify financial resources and support as their lives continue to be disrupted by the coronavirus, as well as a menu of 10 ways fans can support the local music community.
  • WUCF (Orlando, FL) has added to their "Meet The Helpers" video project which features an epidemiologist and public health officials, explaining in ways appropriate for Pre-K students to understand how to stay safe from the coronavirus, as well as a link to educational resources on their website.

  • WFPK (Louisville, KY) is referring to Wednesdays as "Mental Health Day." The station is taking calls and music dedication requests from listeners trying to deal with stress. Listeners can also direct questions about COVID-19 to the news team at WFPL (Louisville Public Media).

  • WCRB Classical Radio Boston has partnered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra to broadcast encore performances for their "virtual community," Monday through Saturday at 8pm. WCRB is also offering an on-demand audio recording of the final dress-rehearsal of Bellini's "Norma" by the Boston Lyric Opera before it was forced to shutter.

  • Minnesota Public Radio broadcast the Minnesota Orchestra's goodbye concert to an empty music hall. The historic concert was the result of the musicians of the orchestra still wanting to bring their regular Friday night live broadcasts to listeners at a time when they might need it most.
  • New Hampshire Public Radio's The Folk Show held three hours of singalongs to lift the spirits of people across the state. The station encouraged listeners to "open a window and invite a neighbor to sing along — and to tweet a selfie doing it."

  • WNYC (New York, NY) is encouraging people who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 to send them a message about why this person will be missed and a story about them that should not be forgotten.

  • WGTE Public Media (Toledo, OH) will begin airing weekly broadcast performances of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra recorded at the Toledo Museum of Art's Peristyle Theater.
  • WXPN (Philadelphia, PA) has created new Spotify playlists curated by their hosts and musicians called "XPN Quarantine Playlists," they are also organizing a digital and on-air interview series with artists conveying the impact of COVID-19 on their careers and curating content on quarantine happenings such as virtual concerts and workshops.

  • WYEP (Pittsburgh, PA) has created a new Facebook group called "Alone, Together" to help people in the community stay connected over their shared love of music. Their page, "You're Social Distancing. Now What?" offers ideas for activities that can help provide comfort and catharsis. WYEP is also airing PSA messages for local non-profit organizations offering help to those who need it.

  • WVIA (Pittston, PA) announced a 7pm Facebook Live series, Nightly Storytime with VIA, featuring station staff members reading a story using books received in a recent grant from the United Way and First Book.

  • Marfa Public Radio (Marfa, TX) hosted a two-hour virtual dance party on March 20 called "Dancing on Your Own" to ease prolonged social isolation.

  • Houston Public Media (Houston, TX) is launching a landing page dedicated to highlighting the content of their artistic and cultural partners, including the Houston Symphony.

  • WNRN (Charlottesville, VA) has launched a new show Home Studio Sessions, where artists play live from home and talk about what they're doing to stay happy, healthy, and inspired while they are off the road.
  • WTJU (Charlottesville, VA) has been airing "Quarantine Haikus". In partnership with a local arts nonprofit called The Bridge, they've asked people to write, record, and send to us their coronavirus-related haikus. They're also currently developing a way to organize local musicians' home-based live streaming concerts so that they can air those on the radio.

  • KEXP-FM (Seattle, WA) is posting three new "live sessions" from their indie-rock archives a week, streaming the recorded session as live performances so that audiences can engage in real time chats. With music festivals cancelled and venues closed, KEXP has put together a calendar of upcoming online concerts. The station is hosting some performances on its Facebook page, which also enables them to maintain traffic on the social media platform. KEXP is also providing support to its community of listeners with a "Guide for Artists and Fans to Support Music During the COVID-19 Outbreak."
  • Classical KING (Seattle, WA) is running on-air announcements asking listeners to donate back the cost of tickets to arts performances to help arts organizations struggling due to cancelled events and bringing cancelled concerts to listeners in live broadcasts from the Classical KING studios. The station is creating new interactive programming for listeners, including those living alone and sheltering in place. And also working with Seattle Opera and other performing organizations to bring archived concert broadcasts to the air to keep them front and center in the minds of the audience.
  • 88 Nine - Radio Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI) has started two new morning show features with Dori Zori – "School of Rock" music lessons about musicians that have shaped our world and "Kids Disco" to get funky with parents and kids. They have also created a new 6 pm feature "Studio Milwaukee: From the Vault" that is an hour long virtual concert opening with local artists and feature Studio Milwaukee Sessions.

Across Platforms, NPR Expands Its Audience Service in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • NPR News launched Coronavirus Daily, a daily podcast recapping top stories and interviews of the day that showcase how the coronavirus is affecting our daily lives - from public health and personal finances to the global economy, politics, society and culture in only 10 minutes for the on-demand audience.
  • NPR News created a new evening program, The National Conversation with All Things Considered, a nightly live national radio show featuring experts answering listener questions ranging from medical considerations to what to watch and read during quarantine. The show airs on around 420 stations across the country.
  • To recap the COVID-19 related milestones from each week of the crisis, NPR News launched a one-hour weekly special Coronavirus – A Weekly Report from NPR News, featuring the best of NPR's reporting on the coronavirus crisis over the past week. The show airs on around 430 stations across the country.
  • NPR launched a live blog capturing the latest updates for audiences flooding our site looking for the latest information as well as The New Normal, a daily newsletter that addresses the coronavirus crisis and provides insights on getting through whatever comes next.
  • Outside the newsroom, NPR's programming team has launched new services and support to audiences, including new and expanded podcasts and new ways of presenting music and educational programming to audiences.
    • NPR's children's podcast Wow in the World launched a brand new interactive, science-based game show, Two Whats and a Wow!, every Tuesday through Friday.
    • Life Kit and Shortwave podcasts have shifted to all coronavirus all of the time, with practical information that helps listeners in their daily lives that go from home-schooling to what groceries / cleaning supplies you really need.
    • NPR is also curating two podcast playlists to help Americans manage anxiety and stay informed during the coronavirus pandemic.
    • NPR Music launched the Tiny Desk from Home series where renowned artists share music and inspiration with listeners from their home (preferably behind a desk.)
    • How I Built This has taken its live shows to Facebook and is doing weekly FB LIve events answering viewer questions about the impact of the coronavirus crisis in the business world and how entrepreneurs can keep their projects going.
    • Storytimes with Zuzu: Susan Stamberg, one of NPR's 'Founding Mothers', is doing a weekly storytime with her family on Facebook Live. She'll read to her granddaughters in California - and to all who join in.
    • Friday film club w Tonya Mosley: A Friday Film Club held on Facebook Live with co-host of Here & Now, Tonya Mosley. She chats with the filmmakers behind some of her top picks for quarantine viewing. The conversation will include an audience Q&A - and can be followed by watch parties!

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