Broadcasters adapt to the challengers of COVID-19 on Community Radio

When the COVID 19 Pandemic hit early in 2020 and threw Victoria into lockdown, Phoenix FM worked very hard to come out the other end intact and strong whilst providing our volunteers with a COVID Safe workplace and our listeners the community access radio they have come to expect.

Naturally, we did wonder if Phoenix FM could survive but the decision was made that we would carry on as normally as possible but also give our presenters the option of suspending their programs or recording from home for as long as was necessary with their program timeslots being held for them for as long as was necessary.

Because of the grit and determination of our presenters, our listeners would not have noticed much change. Some presenters set up recording studios in their homes to pre-record programs in creative and innovative ways as well as supporting each other, as we implemented cleaning and hygiene practices to protect our members while being able to remain on air for our community.

Some of our presenters honed their skills in pre-recording their programs from home so as not to put themselves at risk. These presenters included Floreena Forbes, David Kennedy, David Keith, Rian Howells, and Barry and Jenny Rainsford. Other presenters continued presenting their programs live as normal and in many cases picking up extra timeslots to cover any gaps in the programming. We also put several extra Community Radio Network programs to air during this time.

The community radio sector has also been instrumental in supporting each other along with our industry body the CBAA throughout all of 2020.

Our Members meetings were put on hold but our Committee of Management meetings were held remotely using the Google Hangouts Platform. Our governance practices remained unchanged.

Our Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held in November 2020 was postponed until February 2021. A snap lockdown in February put this meeting in jeopardy with the lockdown being lifted only the night before. The meeting was held and it was wonderful seeing our members actually spending time with each other for the first time in almost a year.

Being a community organisation we were highly aware of the impact that the lockdowns would have on the small business’ that are our sponsors. In consideration of their circumstances we waived any payment from March through to the end of September. Whilst we were unsure whether or not we ourselves would survive the pandemic, the lost revenue from sponsorship did not matter – if we were going to go down we would do it gracefully!

Phoenix FM not only survived but thrived with generous COVID 19 grants provided to us by the City of Greater Bendigo and the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

The Phoenix truly has risen and stays risen as we travel through 2021 stronger than ever!