We are in uncharted territory.

Many of us have lived through natural disasters before or been touched by a large-scale catastrophe like 9/11, but there is no playbook for what we are experiencing today.

We can’t lean on our experience or learnings from the last global pandemic and societal shutdown, because this is all new. And changing by the hour.

I happened upon an article today targeting parents, giving them tips on how to best communicate with their kids about COVID-19. Young ones are confused, scared and out of routine.

It struck me that the core takeaways work not just for children but also for radio audiences.

Give them the facts – then let them lead the discussion.

As information comes to hand, now is more of a time of holding up the megaphone than usual. Be direct and detailed yet succinct. Then seek the opinions, thoughts, and feelings of the audience in reaction to the latest updates and news. Two-way information is key to keep the conversation alive.

Empathy, Empathy, Empathy

People are anxious. Now is the time to show a little more heart than usual. Be human, be vulnerable. Share your personal experiences and let the audience tell their stories too. Conversation is connection. And connection is in dire need right now.

Try to maintain a semi-normal routine

There is comfort in the known, particularly in a time of the unknown. Routine is another way to bring calm during these unsettling days. As long as the content is appropriate, you may consider running that benchmark you are famous for right now. It may get a light coat of paint to better fit the tone of the day, but familiarity is a good thing right now.

Make them feel safe

Just hearing you (their trusted friend) will achieve some of that, but we have a responsibility, arguably more than ever before, to set the tone of the day. To balance information and levity, and give the audience a sense of positivity and most importantly, hope.

Lead by example

It can be so easily forgotten how important we are in listeners’ lives. Great broadcasters hold much gravitas. What you say and do means something and we simply must lead by example right now. Go through your daily life believing the world is watching. And share as much as you can in the spirit of connection, comfort, and leadership.

Be safe. Be well. Be kind.