I had an interesting exchange on Twitter with a local talk radio host the other day. He tweeted concern for people suffering from anxiety during our current collective struggle with the Covid-19 virus, due to heightened concern in the community. I responded, noting that his station was broadcasting all virus all the time. He tweeted back, suggesting this was because the world is all virus all the time right now, and pointed out they had a mandate to inform the public.
I agree that our media outlets should be keeping the public informed during challenging times like this, but perhaps there is a difference between informing and obsessing. This station runs live programming about 18 hours each day and it’s been almost all virus-related this week. I wonder how much information is being given listeners in that 18 hours of broadcasting and how much was simply talking it up. Is there an hour of real information?
I heard one broadcaster with a panel of experts, ask them, who was more crazy, the basketball player who joked about the virus, made a point to touch all the microphones, then tested positive for the virus – OR – the shopper with the mask and gloves and a can of disinfectant spray, filling up the car with water, wet-wipes and toilet paper.
The same station has hastily put together their own corona virus theme music and tag line. I wonder if this kind of manic media coverage has contributed to the panic shopping and supply-hoarding which has been occurring this last week. I suppose this is a particular challenge for talk radio, since they have so much air-space to fill with words, so they jump on content like a dog on a bone.
Maybe during times of crisis, key public health information should be separated and consistent across outlets, much like an amber alert but without the noise, issued perhaps once or twice per day. When I’m at home, I often have the radio on in the background. Yesterday, I decided it was time for a break and shut it off for a while.