Coronavirus: Radio stations paying respects

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In China, radio stations were involved in the national day of mourning, which was organised as a sign of the country gaining closure from Covid 19.  But in the rest of the world, the pandemic is fast and furious and has not spared infecting radio and television staff and producers.

All Chinese radio websites in black and white

CNR, China National Radio Website in black and white, paying respects to those lost their lives due to coronavirus
Website CNR, China National Radio, going black and white
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April 4th, 2020 was decreed by the State Council as China’s day of national mourning. The Chinese Government gave a signal to the world as it moves to returning to normality. Radio stations took part in paying their respects to the Coronavirus victims by removing colour from their websites. Among the mourners were the state broadcaster CNR (China National Radio),  Qingting, one of the biggest sites of audio streaming in the country, which interrupted transmission of all their programmes for the whole day, and Baidu, the most popular research engine in China. Flags were lowered to half-mast all over the country and at their Embassies around the world. Public entertainment was suspended. Three minutes of silence were observed at 10 am with car and train horns, ship and air raid sirens sounding in the background.

Radio and TV personalities among those infected

Website Brescia Today, Italy
Website Brescia Today
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At first count, based on the social media, the most hit today are in Italy (up to April 4th, 2020), the first European country to be attacked by the virus.  Among the infected are Enrico Gualdi and Clarissa Martinelli from Radio Bruno, Claudio Chiari and Luca Viscardi from Radio Number One, and Graziano Fanelli of Radio Studio Più. Television personalities include two presenters from Rete 4:  Piero Chiambretti, the presenter of La Repubblica delle Donne and Nicola Porro who presents Quarta Repubblica.

Radio Populare Website
Website Radio Popolare
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Others, unfortunately, have not recovered.  These are Raffaele Masto, a journalist for Radio Popolare, Raniero Cecchini, one of the founders of Veronica HitRadio in Pesaro, and Franco Lo Conte, who in the seventies was the founder of Cine Radio Sud in Ariano Irpino, a province of Avellino. Our thoughts go to their families.

RTVE, Radio Nacional de Espana, José María Candela, sport journalist at RNE died cause of Coronavirus
Chema Candela, a sports journalist with a long standing career on air on RNE (Radio Nacional de España)
Website RTVE
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In Spain, where the contagion swept in after Italy, Jordi Basté has tested positive. His voice has the most listeners in Catalonia with his programme El mon (the world) on air on the regional station RAC1 from 8 to 9 in the morning with 270,000 listeners tuning in.  Condolences to Radio Nacional de Espana for the passing of one of the most famous faces of Iberian news, Jose Maria “Chema” Candela, a sports journalist who specialised in Atletico Madrid and had had a long career both in radio and on TV. For further information please click here.

Jean-Jacques Lester, radio host at France Bleu Loire-Atlantique, one of French regional public radio stations
Jean-Jacques Lester from France Bleu Loire-Atlantique
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In France, Jean-Jacques Lester, a radio host at France Bleu Loire-Atlantique, one of the French regional public radio stations based in Nantes, recovered from the virus.

Outside Europe

Chris Cuomo from CNN with daily updates about Coronavirus
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Chris Cuomo,  presenter for CNN, the TV station broadcasting through cable in the United States and via satellite to the rest of the world.
Although the virus arrived late on the American continent, it has already struck public figures. Among the most famous is probably Chris Cuomo, a popular presenter for CNN and brother of Andrew, the Governor of New York, who speaks about his experience here.  While in Mexico the infection has hit Esteban Arce, a Televisa presenter.

Sadly,  Julio Quintanilla did not win his fight against Coronavirus. Originally Salvadorian, he was a speaker on WUNR 1600AM, one of Boston, Massachusetts, oldest ethnic radio stations.  He had presented the news, events and sports programme ‘Impacto Centroamericano’ for 25 years.  

Radio and Coronavirus

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Website of dimensione suono Roma, stamoseneacasa, let us stay at home
Website of dimensione suono Roma
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How are radio stations reacting to the state of emergency?  We checked this in Italy, the first country the pandemic spread to in Europe.  On March 16, five days after the government issued a decree advising the population to restrict their movements, we visited all the active websites of the 1,094 radio stations transmitting on FM, the 273 on Dab and the 12 on medium wave on the FMLIST and FMSCAN.  A hundred or so sites gave wide coverage to the exceptional circumstances of the situation.  Among the networks and the superstations (those covering multiple regions), only Dimensione Suono Roma gave good coverage to the Government’s message. Their home page contains the hashtag #stamoseneacasa ( in Roman dialect advising everyone to stay at home).

More active local radio stations

Website of Radio C1 in Italy
Website of Radio C1
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Diverse approaches by local and community radio stations:  Radio C1 in Pescara sends a message of hope, Radio Punto Nuovo in Naples interviews a radio presenter from Radio Zona Rossa, the Radio Codogna programme on air since February 23. They broadcast two daily news programmes covering the spread of the virus in the town, which following the Chinese approach, was one of the first to be locked down.  Radio Nuova Macerata focuses on useful information such as free grocery delivery services which are beneficial for the elderly so they are not obliged to leave their homes and risk contagion.

The sacred and the profane in Puglia

Website of Radio Montecalvo
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Website of Radio Made in Italy
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There is no shortage of curiosities: Radio Montecalvo, a broadcasting station in Foggia announces a prayer to Padre Pio for protection against the coronavirus.  On the contrary, Radio Made in Italy in Bari draws particular attention to their special offer regarding the red light portal Porno Hub, giving free access to the premium services in order to ….. lighten quarantine. 

Luckily someone thinks about children

Website of SWR Aktuell, a German broadcasting company
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Website of NDR, a German broadcasting company
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With the school closures and parents having to control their hyperactive smaller children, Radio Millennium has come up with a highly appreciated idea for children by broadcasting fairy tales, recorded by the theatre company Teatro del Cerchio  in Parma.  However focusing on children is not an Italian prerogative.  In Germany, for example, the regional radio stations NDR and SWR have increased their numbers of educational programmes for the young.

Website of Radio Millennium in Italy
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