It’s not a pleasant subject, but if you haven’t already done so, it’s past time to be sure your radio station is ready. It's time to think through and write a plan of action in the event the scary events of the last week continue to escalate to the point our nation needs to commit troops.
2. Get them in the habit of checking for bulletins. Then, make sure they know who should be phoned, what should be announced on your air. How will you handle it?
3. If you have a network affiliation, do you want to join the national feed or do something locally?
4. Who should make that decision?
Key question to ask as you make this call: if you don’t go 100% live coverage now, do you run the risk of losing listeners to another radio station?
If they go to TV or the Internet, at least they’ll still be on your radio station when their normal pattern resumes.
5. If it turns into another “Desert Storm” or “9/11,” you may want to create patriotic tribute songs or play the national anthem at benchmark times, like 6 am and noon.
Who makes this call? Make sure that’s clear to talent as well. If someone does this and the national mood isn’t as unified as when Canadian troops when into Afghanistan when the U.S. focused on Iraq, this can come off as corny.
Playing the same song every day at the same time is poor programming and can be a tune out if the time isn’t absolutely RIGHT.
6. Request and dedication hours can be set aside for mentioning troops overseas and saluting their families here at home. It’s always also a good time to get listeners involved in events helping the troops.
7. Write a closing line for all regularly scheduled newscasts promoting the commitment you’ve made to interrupt regular programming to constantly keep your listener informed.
8. If you have no network connection, contact local TV stations, exploring having one of their news talents voice your updates over a phone line from their newsroom for as long as the situation is dire.
9. Check your active music library for songs as well as all comedy bits and song parodies which might be in bad taste in light of current events
10. Imaging must be very carefully re-evaluated and rewritten. Don't be political, but when military is being deployed, it's not a good time to be bragging about who plays the most music.
Commit all of these decisions - including imaging scripts, produced intro's etc - to writing and place your policy in a place where anyone who's on the air can review it on a moment's notice.
Hopefully, you'll never need it.
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