How radio networks are dealing with Coronavirus threat

• Updated: ARN’s Ciaran Davis on plans for remote broadcasting

In addition to our Thursday feature about the radio industry, Mediaweek has an update from ARN.

On Friday morning the three broadcasters who were working remotely – Amanda Keller, Jackie O and Kyle Sandilands have returned to their studios after news that Christian Wilkins’ test results were negative for COVID-19.

ARN updated Mediaweek that it does have the technology and resources in place that would support all its talent to broadcast remotely if it was required.

The majority of ARN teams are now working from home, except for content teams.

ARN CEO Ciaran Davis told Mediaweek:

“The health and well-being of our people is our number one priority and, in line with up-to-the minute Government advice, we’ve taken measures to reduce risk which includes reducing having the majority of our teams now working from home. This reduces any risk to talent and content teams, who are currently broadcasting both from our studios and remotely, in locations that are the safest places for them.

“ARN’s business continuity plans ensure that across the network, the technology and resources are in place to ensure all staff, including on air talent and content teams, can work from home or at other appropriate locations should it be required. In addition to this, bespoke kits with new equipment have been made for news teams and other announcing teams which can be distributed as needed. This will ensure we can continue to inform and entertain our audiences as this situation continues to evolve. The high level of service all of our teams have always provided to our clients and partners will not be compromised and, other than face-to-face meetings, there will be very little difference in the way they continue interact with ARN.”

As the world grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, radio has a more important role than ever to keep audiences well-informed, said Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner this week.

The comments came as some shows were remote broadcasting from home studios and some staff were in isolation after being tested for the virus.

“Isolation policies, remote working, closures of community meeting places and rapidly changing circumstances mean listeners and businesses will rely on radio for information, entertainment and to stay in touch with breaking news relevant to their local area,” said Warner.

All 260 commercial radio stations around Australia – including 220 in regional areas – have contingency plans and procedures in place to work with emergency and essential services organisations to ensure accurate and timely broadcasts as required.

Warner: “The full impact of the coronavirus on ad spend and the media and marketing industries is uncertain, but what is clear is that it’s essential for governments and businesses to keep communicating with their customers during these challenging times, and radio remains an important and effective channel.”

SCA teams remain in studios

SCA has asked staff to continue working from their respective offices.

Southern Cross Austereo told Mediaweek it is prepared for any event in the wake of the rapidly changing circumstances of COVID-19. “We have the technical ability and a high level of awareness and training among all our people to either operate in our offices or remotely.”

All staff, including content teams, can work remotely with no interruption to business. “Our Technology Services division has been employing new technologies, software and hardware to meet the challenges of the future. This has resulted in SCA becoming a world class agile media entity able to meet both known and unknown threats to the continuity of our operations.”

All offices remain open and operational at this time.

 “SCA has 65 offices across the nation and if any cases do present, we will work with offices on an individual case by case basis. Some offices are in densely populated areas, others are remote, so we will not necessarily adopt one policy for all our operations.

“We are updating our people regularly on any pertinent news and reminding them of personal hygiene best practice. It is a very fluid situation and we remain in close communication with our people and their circumstances. SCA has the ability to make changes quickly and be agile in our thinking.”

Southern Cross Austereo has taken precautionary measures to cancel or postpone all its external listener events nationally.

Southern Cross Austereo has cancelled all non-essential travel to minimise exposure to COVID-19 for its people.

Most Nova shows still in studio, except Fitzy & Wippa

Nova’s Fitzy and Wippa team at home

A Nova Entertainment spokesperson told Mediaweek:

“At this stage the majority of our teams (Nova, smoothfm, Fiveaa and Star 104.5) are working from their usual studios but we have the technology, and have been testing this equipment with various announcers over the past few days, to provide us with confidence that they can broadcast from home or an alternative location if need be.

“At this stage Nova 96.9’s Fitzy & Wippa and their team are all broadcasting from their respective homes, a unique situation to broadcast from four locations, while they are awaiting the final results of their tests following close contact with Richard Wilkins who tested positive. The majority of the team have received negative results while we are still waiting on results for a couple of the team.

Smallzy and his team are experienced at broadcasting remotely, as they travel internationally regularly, so have been using this technology for many years. Smallzy is still broadcasting his night show from the Sydney studios.”

Tom Ivey gets the all clear

Fitzy & Wippa team update: Executive producer Tommy, plus Fitzy & Sarah got their Coronavirus results back and they were all negative for COVID 19.

Thursday morning both Matt de Groot and Wippa received news of negative test results for Coronavirus.

Nine Radio big shows goes remote

At the start of the week both the breakfast shows at 2GB and 3AW were working remotely. 3AW’s Ross and John have plenty of experience at broadcasting from Ross Stevenson’s home after he suffered a bad back several years ag and couldn’t make it into the studio. 3AW’s Neil Mitchell has also been operating from a home studio.

Also working remotely in 2GB’s Alan Jones. Drive host Ben Fordham is also working remotely, but it’s not strictly connected with Coronavirus. Fordham is in Melbourne co-hosting filming of the new season of Nine’s Ninja Warrior.

Some ARN hosts in isolation

Kyle Sandilands wondered on Monday why the Nine Radio big stars were not in the studio, but he and Jackie O were. “Does nobody care about us,” he asked listeners (and management).

Come Tuesday morning he and Jackie were both broadcasting from their homes. The hosts were in self-isolation while awaiting the results of Christian Wilkins’ test for COVID-19 (he visited them in studio last week). Now that Christian’s test results have come back negative, Kyle and Jackie are expected back in studio Friday.

The program was playing a Best Of show Thursday as Kyle was unwell.

At WSFM, Amanda Keller was broadcasting from home this week, also being cautious after working with Christian Wilkins on TV last Sunday on Dancing with the Stars. Her co-host Brendan Jones explained to listeners he was still in the ARN Macquarie Park studio because he had to operate the panel and put the show to air. “We aren’t as well-resourced as some other shows,” he noted on Tuesday.

At Gold 104.3, the host of Melbourne’s #1 FM breakfast show Christian O’Connell talked about a home set-up ARN techs were putting together in case he needs to broadcast from home in the future.

Top Photo: WSFM’s Brendan Jones in the studio with Amanda Keller at home earlier this week

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