Deemed an essential service, Raglan Community Radio is still on the airwaves with all the volunteer DJs now working from home, thanks to station manager Aaron Moar.
Working furiously in the 48-hours before lockdown, Aaron has used a combination of modern technology, free software, old school radio equipment and good old-fashioned persistence to keep the station on air.
“To be honest there’s been a lot of experimentation and mistakes on the air while we get it sorted but we’ve used Zoom or Skype along with software that gives DJs remote control of the studio computer. For those who aren’t so confident on the computer I spent the 48-hours before lockdown setting up basic studios in a handful of houses with old equipment we still had lying around. A couple of people are prerecording as well.”
With only one DJ too busy with her job during the lockdown, Aaron says the station is still as busy as ever with volunteers keen for more slots and former DJs offering to volunteer during lockdown, all looking for ways to keep themselves busy in their bubble.
Timebank Tuesday DJ Sarah Lancaster says being able to broadcast from the safety of her bubble has been “mind blowing” and all the DJs are grateful to be able to keep the community humming from the comfort of their homes.
“The community of DJ’s would like to extend our biggest gratitude to Aaron for going above and beyond, working all hours of the day and night to make sure every single DJ is hooked in, set up, comfortable, happy, and read. It’s truly a lot of work, and all to make sure that the Raglan community can still have music to groove to, keep calm to, familiar voices to hear, and laugh with, and key info, ideas and support to get out there to our listeners.”
Reaching as many people as possible is the first priority in an emergency and radio plays an important role in disasters and crises all around the world.
Governments use radio to broadcast vital information to people who are not connected to the Internet, which can include many elderly in the community.
As well as broadcasting information about Covid-19, that is both nationally and locally relevant, Aaron is also focused on the social role radio plays.
“If we were to go off the air entirely or lose the voices of our 25 volunteer DJs it would just add to the sense of isolation everyone is feeling – especially for regular listeners. We’re working hard to maintain that sense of human connection because there aren’t a lot of options for feeling in touch with our community right now – especially if we live alone or are in quarantine.”
There have been a few glitches, Aaron says, especially when the Internet is overloaded and can make it too hard to work remotely.
“I hope listeners can be patient with us as 25 people go through a steep learning curve live on the air, especially with a busy internet causing their connection to the studio to drop out from time to time. It’s been hard work but also a kind of fun challenge to see if we could do it.”