Radio Programming & Coronavirus: What Can You Do?

You’ve probably seen the meme detailing the sacrifice we must all make, akin to our grandparents’:

But Radio doesn’t get that luxury. There is no “sitting on the couch” version of adjusting to this new (hopefully temporary) normal.

Over the years, Radio has struggled to defend what were once key footholds:

  • TV news shows supplanted morning radio listening at home.
  • Smart speakers have become the new clock radio, and while our data shows a modest TSL boost for terrestrial brands there, the industry faces a vast array of competing audio alternatives in that space.
  • At-work listening is being threatened by earbuds and streaming services (though admittedly we can cook the books a bit and rent the ears of ratings likelies with contesting).
  • But the car… the CAR is where we dominate. And everyone is developing Connected Car strategies as you read this.

Except no one is driving right now.

No one is in their office.

Sure, they’re at home, but so is Netflix, Apple Music, Podcasts, Cable, Spotify, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

Radio must be proactive. We can’t wait for listeners to find us at home. We have to aggressively give them a reason to use us at home and GET CREDIT FOR IT in the process.

Radio is well equipped to be a hyper-local disseminator of timely COVID-19 information in each community and deliver on listeners expectations. See the latest data in our on-going tracker at:

But beyond the basics of service to the community, how do we get the audience to tune to our stations?

Some radio companies have figured that the need arising from recent and unfortunate widespread economic devastation dovetails with what has always driven participation in the ratings. People need cash for bills, food, medical expenses and other unmet needs. Right now.

Those executing local and national contests along this theme are following a winning strategy. We have data that backs this up, too:

If you have the opportunity to get cash in the hands of the audience before the government can, know that you have an audience ready to participate. We can understand the fear of being tone-deaf, but packaged the right way, contesting not only generates TSL occasions but community goodwill.

If you decide to venture down this path, think practical over experiential. You’re not sending someone on a shopping spree, you’re helping them pay their bills. You’re not giving them a chance to live like a pop star, you’re giving them a chance to make their mortgage payment this month.

If you were in radio in 2008 and 2009, you remember that recession and the changes to our approach that needed to be made. The economic impact of what’s going on right now is going to be felt long after COVID-19 is in our rear-view mirror. It’s probably going to be the lens through which you’ll view all your promotions going forward, at least in the near term.

As always when it comes to contesting, focus on the benefits to the audience, not just the details of how to win. Look through their eyes.

We update our COVID-19 data at least once a day, and it’s always free to you.