Radio’s not-so-secret weapon in the war against Covid

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a war. It has already taken almost twice as many lives as Australians who gave theirs’ in Vietnam.

What’s worse, this war is being fought on home soil. We’re engaged in house-to-house combat with an invisible enemy that we thought we’d beaten, only to have it regroup and re-arm with weapons more potent than before.
Right now, the only way we have of keeping it contained is by severely disrupting its ability to spread from person to person through strict social distancing until we have about 80 per cent of the population vaccinated. Clear and simple, no? 
Well, no. Over recent months, the messaging from both federal and state governments has been woeful – particularly in regard to the relative efficacy of the vaccines. 
Originally, the advice was that AstraZeneca should only be taken by over 60’s with underlying health issues because there was a (very remote) chance of a blood clotting side effect. The next day they said anyone over 40 should get it. And then, Prime Minister, Scott Morrison advised that all Australians, of all ages, should get vaccinated, with whatever was available, because the risk of death posed by Covid was infinitely greater than the side effects. 
If that wasn’t enough to confuse people, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, contradicted the PM, insisting that she would not want anyone under 40 to get the AZ vaccine because, “I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid, probably wouldn’t die.”
Between them, the feds and the states, only succeeded in building up the Pfizer brand to be the ‘Mercedes Benz of vaccines’, highly sought after and in limited supply, whereas the AstraZeneca was perceived to be some sort of cheap knock-off that the government was trying to flog us because they had an oversupply, and very little of the Pfizer. 
This kind of mixed messaging is poison to any campaign whether it be war or marketing – which is often one and the same.
To make matters far worse, there are still those amongst us in the media and, unbelievably, in parliament, who go out of their way to take every opportunity to seize on any ambiguity so that they can undermine the science and the message by spreading misinformation and falsehoods. During WWII, when we were fighting a visible human enemy, we would have called these people saboteurs and traitors.
Radio, the ultimate influencer, is in a great position to put this right.

Bravo to all those in radio, FM and AM, online and digital, who have taken the challenge to the deniers, the conspiracy theorists and the “world citizen” ratbags that rely on some arcane notion of freedom buried in the Magna Carta to shirk their responsibilities to their fellow Australians while happily feeding on all the benefits that this country has to offer.
The other day, we did a quick whip around of a random list of stations to see who’s doing what about Covid. Being shown and heard on-air to be getting your Covid shot, whether AstraZeneca or Pfizer, seems the most popular way of demonstrating your personal commitment to fighting the virus.
Special shout outs go to: 
2GB’s Ray Hadley who won’t let up on calling out the half-truths, lies and deceits peddled by his former colleague Alan Jones and his cohort at Sky News on a regular basis. 
GOLD 104.3’s Craig ‘Huggy’ Huggins whose own mother fell victim to Covid in July last year and who had the guts to tell his listeners, while holding back tears, “Many people don’t know anyone who’s had the virus. Well, now you do, Huggy’s mum.” 
3AW’s Dee Dee Dunleavy who, rather than blame the authorities for preventing her from attending the funeral of her beloved nephew after his unexpected death, empathised with thousands put in a similar position and instead blamed the virus for her predicament and put the responsibility for beating it on her audience. 
“Please, please, get vaccinated, because we can’t keep living like this,” Dee Dee said. “This time it hurts too much. Please, let’s do what we can so we can open up our country again and live the way we should be living.”
 To KIIS106.5’s Kyle and Jackie O for engaging their audience, as only they know how, with a rap to go get jabbed. 

Following on from Kyle’s ‘Get Vaxxed Baby’ jingle, Jackie O getting vaccinated on air and The Edge’s Mike E & Emma getting vaccinated on air, ARN are getting behind The Great Aussie Vaccine Drive.

It seems everyone at the Grant Broadcasters stations wants to get in on the act of getting the jab.
Group Content Director, Ryan Rathbone, provided just “a few” examples, telling radioinfo,b “Understandably it’s a person’s right to get vaccinated or not. So, we didn’t / couldn’t and wouldn’t force talent to do anything but we have encouraged those that are getting it to share their experiences with our audiences.

“They have done that via static social posts, video content for Instagram and Facebook plus traditional on-air story telling sharing their experiences with the audience and interviewing experts to ensure the audience has the facts.”
Here are some examples from around the country:
Hot Tomato breakfast guys went and got vaccinated.

7HO-FM’s Mick and Johnno got their first AZ vax live on air in May, see video here: (Sarah didn’t get hers at this point as it wasn’t available to her age group yet.)
They also published a segment with the doctors answering people’s vaccination questions:
Then on Tuesday this week Mick and Johnno had their second AZ dose, so are now fully vaccinated:
Facebook version:
Also YouTube version here:
Also on Tuesday, Sarah got her first Pfizer jab:
Facebook version:
YouTube version:
This morning The Wake Up Call with Robbo and Steve spoke with local 25 year old Kimberley Price who rolled up her sleeve to get AstraZeneca.
Bendigo is leading the way with vaccine rollout, Robbo and Steve from The Wake Up Call spoke with CEO for Bendigo Health Peter Faulkner..
3BA and Power FM have teamed up with The Committee For Ballarat to promote ‘get vaccinated’ and make Ballarat the first fully vaccinated city in Australia.
Sam Talbot, in Port Lincoln did a mini doco on himself getting the jab, It had a nice dynamic sound on air, and coincided with the Beginning of NSW’s outbreak. 
“Also, our CEO, Alison Cameron, confirmed that Grant Broadcasters is offering paid vaccination leave – be that an appointment for a shot, or an appointment to see a doctor and get advice about getting a shot to remove barriers from our teams wanting to get vaccinated,” said Ryan.
Nova Entertainment
A spokesperson told radioinfo: NOVA Entertainment’s radio announcers and news teams on all our stations across the country, as well as podcast talent, continue to keep listeners up to date on the latest COVID related news. We have provided a platform for listeners to dispel rumours and find out more information including case numbers, restrictions, and vaccine locations, as well as providing support for and recognition of our frontline workers.  
Many of our announcers across the country have shared their experiences about being vaccinated on air and on social media.
Given the current and constantly changing situations across NSW, Fitzy & Wippa have been providing updates on vaccination hubs and speaking to the NSW Premier regularly for updates throughout the current NSW lockdown.
Every day our business and management team support our staff as they deal with ongoing mental and physical challenges that arise due to lockdowns. This support includes flexible working arrangements that meet individual needs to allow staff to care for children or dependents, navigate home schooling, providing time off to attend personal appointments (medical, vaccination or otherwise), access to mental health days and give back leave to allow staff to support charities. 
NOVA has implemented a range of initiatives to support staff including regular opportunities for virtual connection, mental health (Black Dog Institute) and mindset training and all staff have access to an Employee Assistance Program (Converge) for free professional counselling.
Fitzy & Wippa ‘We’ve Got Your Back’, the guys give back to frontline workers, nurses who are working in  covid clinics
Fitzy and Wippa speak with mindset coach Ben Crowe talking about how to stay motivated in lockdown
F&W speak to Gladys Berejiklian about difficulties of getting Pzifer and encourage Sydneysiders to get the AstraZeneca jab “you’ve got more odds of being struck by lightning”
Fitzy gets vaccinated –
Sarah (below right) gets vaccinated:
Matt De Groot (below left) gets vaccinated:

Southern Cross Austereo
An SCA spokesperson told radioinfo, “SCA promotes an environment that prioritises the health, safety and wellbeing of our people.
“Accordingly, SCA has a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (which is consistent with legislative requirements) that all people are encouraged to have a COVID-19 vaccine.
 “SCA proactively manages the health and wellbeing of our teams – including by offering a national flu-vaccination program which gives all employees the opportunity to be vaccinated free of charge on an annual basis.”

As an example, here’s Nick Gill on Hit Newcastle’s Breakfast show Nic, Jess & Ducko – it’s a vaccination parody song that was on Hit’s Instagram and Facebook:

Meanwhile over at the Super Network’s 2HD and NewFM, General Manager, Guy Ashford told radioinfo that both stations are running substantial community service announcements in regard to how and where to get tested, vaccinated and what the current social distancing rules are.
Mr Ashford says, “As a talk station, 2HD strives to be balanced with those who have concerns about vaccination, but you also have a responsibility to your audience. I mean, everybody has a choice, but the only way to beat this virus is by getting vaccinated. That’s the stance we have. And we won’t entertain the conspiracy theorists.” 
 If your station is having a red hot go at encouraging your audience to get vaccinated, drop us a line to [email protected]

Peter Saxon


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