As local broadcasters, community is arguably our industry’s greatest strength. Not only are we fortunate enough to super serve our neighbors with vital information and entertainment, we’re also in a position to fully immerse ourselves in the cities from which we broadcast. And because this line of work requires a glossing knowledge of a multitude of subjects and connections to other organizations, opportunities abound to serve our community outside of hours on the clock. These occasions for community action can be executed with as much or as little attention as the situation appropriates. They can be branded and promoted as station events or performed quietly as private citizens.
So, you want to be active in your community on a personal and professional level? As broadcasters, we can do more than simply show up. What can we do and how do we use our skills and connections as broadcasters to achieve these connections to our local neighborhoods?
Telethons and radiothons hold potentially the greatest impact, particularly financially. Lasting anywhere from an hour to several days and benefiting local individuals or national charity funds, these events require planning and creativity in programming. A grand example is the Radio Cares Radiothon raising half a million dollars nationwide for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Relief, but smaller scale events at individual stations provide significant impact as well.
Individually, the most common request for radio and television personalities is hosting events. This includes everything from fundraisers, to 5Ks and galas, and requires public speaking and impromptu skills. Events with live auctions necessitate your best persuasion skills to get those items sold to the highest bidder. While these appearances are typically reflective of a station partnership and sponsored promotionally, smaller and unaffiliated opportunities exist as well. Why not DJ a sick (or perfectly healthy) kid’s birthday? Or host a fun run at your child’s school?
What other skills can we employ besides speaking and bringing awareness to a cause or event?
- School presentations—Plenty of students from elementary age through college are looking for industry leaders (and novices) to discuss varying careers and even more generic topics like interviewing and resumes.
- Troop tours—Many scout troops seek a broadcasting badge and can earn this by touring stations. This can be as simple as a 30-minute tour around a station showing them what the facilities look like and discussing roles of jobs in the industry.
- Mentoring—This also includes groups from elementary schools (help a morning announcer perfect their technique) all the way through high school and college (help them learn about salaries, negotiating, and finding internships).
- Individual, routine volunteer activity—This could include regular volunteer hours at an animal shelter or children’s hospital, strengthening your professional relationship with the organization and local leaders.
- Donating personal or station sanctioned items—This requires minimal time and may include an advertising campaign (personally funded by you or donated by the station) or sports memorabilia you had signed through professional endeavors or on your own.
- Social media—Whether you’re a social media manager or simply a station contributor, you can use these skills to assist a small, local non-profit organization and help them reach a greater potential.
- Audio and video editing—Dance groups, school performances, and really any non- profit with limited resources can always use these skills for necessary projects.
- Team building—Want to help sales and programming work together or help a new on-air team bond, organize a group outing to serve the community! Some cities offer “volunteer buses” where you’re taken to a surprise location to work on a project for a few hours (ex. decorating cookies for a nursing home party or walking dogs at an overcrowded shelter).
As broadcasters, we are fortunate enough to provide essential information to our community on the clock, but we also have a vast array of talents that we can service off the clock, privately or publicly, on large or small scales. Let’s go out and make our neighborhood a better place, one broadcaster at a time!
Heather Storm, Woodward Radio Group, Appleton