Adapt quickly that’s what resilience and success is all about: EON Broadcasting

This week more people will be returning to the radio workplace.

In our continuing series examining how broadcast companies are adapting to working in the Corona virus era, today Steve Ahern finds out from EON Broadcasting’s Group Content Director Rod Brice and Business Manager Gillian Mackie about how EON’s Mix and Sea stations on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast are adapting.

EON Broadcasting has been fortunate enough to keep staff and casuals employed since the pandemic lockdowns began. “The JobKeeper has been an extraordinary assistance,” says Brice. “We are taking a positive and cooperative changed attitude to studios and operations, like other broadcasters.”
As well as regular cleaning, if the station has a COVID-19 outbreak in the building there are back up plans in place. EON Broadcasting has purchased additional high-quality microphone / headsets and soundcards so talent could work from home using Zetta-2go if needed.

“Our engineer Tim also ensured we had additional internet access into the building for staff to use the station’s VPN system without clutter and for high volume Zetta-2go access.”

EON Broadcasters also moved the entire local newsroom to News Director Nicola Ryan’s home during one weekend, so the station’s local /national breakfast bulletins are being done from there.
“We have a blanket ban on all studio visits by non-staff in place and our internal imaging and commercial producer started working from home studios that are capable of VPN access to the internal office system and Zetta.
“From the Content point of view we are unusual for many regional markets as we have a duo on Breakfast on SEA (BarRat and Heidi) and on MIX FM (Mark and Caroline) as well as a duo locally in drive on SEA (Elly and Becks) and on MIX (Todd and Sami), plus talent across the day.   These duos were separated into individual internal studios for all the shifts, so they are socially separated while in the building during prep time and while on-air.  The daytime shift was made into one 6-hour 9-3 shift that is part live and part voice tracked on the day,”
explains Brice.
The Mix and Sea studios are cleaned by the announcers prior to and at the end of each shift with supplied material in each studio (as shown In the pics).

Bar Rat on Sea FM

Cleaning products that are suitable for hard desk tops and surfaces are used and, after technical advice, the station has also supplied special cleaning products suitable for electronic surfaces such as panels and screens.

Caroline on SEA FM

“It’s a case of everyone watching each-other’s back, cleaning before and after each shift with a rest period of at least an hour before the next user… The normal cleaners we have in the station each night clean the workstations and office areas.”

“We are local on both stations all weekend so some shifts have remained local and live and some are VT’s out of hours (after 7-30pm) for the weekend,” says Brice.

Heidi on SEA FM
The system appears to be working.  “From a management perspective, we have endeavoured to have at least one senior exec team member in the building each day on a rotation system,” he says.

“I agree with you article that the quality of phones has been appalling.  The first few weeks in particular it was like someone had reduced the bit rate by 60 percent, phone signal saying full bars but almost impossible to hear!  

“We have started to use the audio section of Facebook message or Skype audio for interviews as much as possible, again it depends on internet quality, but we have frequently found it better than mobile phone reception. Without the video connection both generally has better sound and clarity.”

EON Broadcasters arranged for sales and office staff to move home and work from there very quickly. Business Manager Gillian Mackie takes up the story.

“During  2019 I began working on a project aimed at being paperless as much as possible, and moving from the usual desktops to laptops for staff that needed to access our VPN and network outside of usual business hours. This included executive staff, sales and our traffic and content staff.

“Our production staff already had technology in place to work from home if required. Our Engineering and IT Manager, Tim Aquilina, worked on technical requirements as soon as restrictions were put into place and this enabled us to very quickly respond to the ever changing news and lockdown. Within a few days we had our working from home policy signed off with each staff member, with a risk assessment of their work environment at home done, then we moved them all offsite, except the announcers and Rod.

“Our General Sales Manager, Simon Rub and myself remained in the office and our CEO, John Williams came into the office a few days a week. We also increased cleaning routines in the office and communal areas,” says Mackie.
As restrictions are beginning to ease, the station is staggering the return to work. “Last week and next week our staff return to the office, with sales staff alternating days in the office and working from home to reduce risk as much as possible.

“Meetings are still via Teams or Zoom, and using technology allowed us to continue building relationships and stay in touch with our clients and our staff.”

Mackie says she is working closely with all our staff as returning to work may be difficult to some who have enjoyed working from home, while others cannot wait to come back to a social working environment.

“There may be a couple who will remain working from home as they have health issues that may increase their risk, and we are working with them through that. It is important that we address concerns and make the transition back to the office as seamless as we had done with transitioning them to working from home, and although emails, chats, Zoom and Teams are great tools for communicating, this business does need us to be together as a team to foster creativity, productivity and give outstanding service to our clients and to our listeners.

“We now know that we can have the flexibility of remote working where needed and can adapt quickly to emerging situations, and I think that is what resilience and success is all about.”

In a post script, Rod Brice adds that he has never in all his career seen the desks in the jock’s room look so clean!  


Sea and Mix are currently advertising a job for a journalist to join their team.






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