It seems that a week rarely goes by without a tragedy in the world. Each affects your audience emotionally and personally. And almost every time, radio stations are taken by surprise because it’s impossible to plan exactly what to do in every situation. But we can prepare for how to deal with tragedy and emergencies when they happen.
This guide will help you relate to your audience when they need you most.
Of course, there are many types of emergencies. Some are personal (a sick child, a father who’s been laid off). Others are personal to a cast member. Many times, they’re local (natural disasters, for instance). And then there’s the increasingly common events of terrorism and mass killings.
When something extraordinary happens, will you be there to reflect it, be a part of it? Are you prepared to change direction as the situation calls for it? Jeff & Jer called their ability to change course the art of “knowing how to be really good when things are really bad.”
Radio can shine in times of tragedy. And I’m not talking about just covering it as a news event.
As Deborah Parenti of Radio Ink puts it:
Cable news outlets run 24/7 updates from news sources and press conferences. They hash over the events with talking heads, “experts,” and “analysts”, interspersed with a few eye witness interviews repeated over and over throughout the day. Depending on the channel, some of it is also presented through a political lens. Indeed, it’s a role they have carved out as part of their 24/7 cycle, one which has also shunted broadcast TV coverage to more of a “bulletin” status…But where radio distinguishes itself and what truly spotlights its niche among all media is/was and will continue to be, its distinct ability to reach out, dig in and be part of the community. That’s a far different role than reporting on the community.
One of the most important things you can do as an air talent is become the show to turn to when something major happens. Weather emergencies, local tragedies and city-wide celebrations are moments that matter for your show.
It’s the time when you have to be at your best.