Health & safety a top priority for radio bosses as coronavirus spreads
As the coronavirus continues its assault on mankind, the big four commercial radio networks are implementing measures to protect the wellbeing of staffers nationwide.
Perhaps the hardest working radio employees right now are the men and women in IT departments around the country who are preparing for workforces to run remotely at scale.
The networks are also installing or upgrading home studios inside the homes of key breakfast and drive talent to ensure on-air continuity should the pandemic continue to escalate.
Australian Radio Network says it already has specialised technology in place to ensure all staff, including personalities, can work from home or at other locations if required.
Bespoke kits with new equipment have been made for news and announcing teams which can be distributed as needed.
Southern Cross Austereo stars, including Carrie Bickmore and Dave Hughes, can broadcast from their lounge rooms or Ten’s Melbourne studios in the event of an emergency.
SCA chief Grant Blackley told the SMH that he and chief technology officer Stephen Haddad are working together to ensure all workers can also run shop from home.
“We are planning for an event that could potentially lock the doors on every single building we have around the country,” said Blackley, “and for us to operate continuously from a remote location, with 2,500 people within our company.
“We are planning for that as a necessary next step that could occur.”
Authorities estimate that around 3,000 Australians are currently self-isolating at home with a total of 191 confirmed coronavirus cases across Australia.
David Campbell in the smoothfm Sydney studios
NOVA Entertainment’s programming and marketing chief, Paul Jackson, told Radio Today that the company has implemented a number of precautions.
“We take the health and safety of all our staff very seriously and have procedures and plans in place in line with the guidelines set out by the Government and Health Authorities,” said Jackson.
Smoothfm favourite David Campbell is in self-isolation for 14 days after coming into direct contact with a guest who was later confirmed to have contracted coronavirus.
The singer, radio host and TV personality interviewed singer and actress Rita Wilson on his TODAY Extra show on Nine and is awaiting test results, but has no symptoms.
1. So it’s been a wild 24 hours. Firstly. @RitaWilson is delightful. So charming. Contrary to some reporting her husband wasn’t in studio. Rita was hyper vigilant about the threat of Coronavirus and we did not touch. I feel for her and @tomhanks as they are so nice and popular. pic.twitter.com/UNZp96Zzxe
— David Campbell (@DavidCampbell73) March 12, 2020
A Nine spokesperson said that the premises are currently being cleaned thoroughly and employees are being encouraged to monitor their health.
Jackson tells Radio Today they are awaiting Campbell’s test results to determine when he will return to the smoothfm airwaves.
“As has been reported, David Campbell has been tested and is self-isolating,” said Jackson. “Until we receive official results, he will not be heard on-air.
“In addition to a broader business approach, we have already implemented precautionary measures around all our studios to protect our announcers and have procedures in place if they are unable to broadcast from the studios.”
ARN, home to Sydney’s top-rating Kyle and Jackie O Show, says its prepared for the worst-case scenario as health authorities estimate that about 20% of the population could contract the virus.
Chief executive Ciaran Davis is taking no chances and says ARN are keeping staff informed of the latest developments.
“We have limited non-essential events and meetings, and are encouraging any member of staff to work from home or take leave if they feel unwell,” Davis told Radio Today.
“Given the dynamic nature of the situation, ARN are constantly reviewing and updating plans in line with information that we receive from Government departments so we remain prepared.”