© 2020 Chuck Knight Media

Leading Radio brands to success.

19 COVID-19 Topics

Big, global ideas are an important part of Radio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic but so are individual ideas you can use on the air today.  Below are some ideas to help you get your thought-process going.


  1. Your Mayor with your local update

  2. Your Senator or Congressperson on what the stimulus bill means to us

  3. Governor on the state’s response

  4. Q & A with a doctor (take listener calls)

  5. Teacher on how online school is going and what parents can do to help

  6. Grocery spokesperson on keeping shelves stocked against panic buying

  7. Dentist on how to handle urgent needs

  8. Movie reviewer (top 10 Netflix)

  9. Best Buy Geek Squad on setting up your home office

  10. Grilling expert-favorite recipes

  11. Most awesome, compassionate thing you’ve seen during the crisis

  12. DIY projects-Home Depot, Lowes spokesperson

  13. Car dealer-extending financial support to buyers, deferred payments, service department open

  14. Mental Health expert-tips on coping, watching too much TV news

  15. Your vet on crisis pet care.  Pet stores still open

  16. 401K investment advisor on what to do now

  17. Calls from small business owners, giving them each a live 60-second commercial

  18. Your 6-year old on what they’re doing

  19. Your 90-year old grandmother on how she’s doing


Focus an hour or a day on an individual topic.  Some will fizzle, others will rage on for hours.  Stay with the “hits”.  Recycle the best topics.  Get local experts.  Make listeners the stars by asking what they’re doing about each of these topics.  Hustle.  Work hard.  Spend more time than ever on prep and lining up guests and brainstorming additional topics.  Send out company-wide emails asking co-workers to help you brainstorm.  Post on social media asking your followers for ideas on what they would like you to bring to the air on your show.  Through others, get a view for needed content that is beyond your vision.  Keep in mind, experts, officials and listeners want and need to be on your air.

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Life Changed Forever on 3/11

Remember the phrase “Life changed forever on 9/11”?  With the COVID-19 pandemic declaration, life changed more drastically on 3/11.

Perception is Reality

This is serious.  Doesn’t matter if we think the reaction is overblown.  Perception is always reality.  Look no further than the public panic buying at your grocery store.  Schools, restaurants and bars are closed, sporting events cancelled, shelter-in-place orders declared, our 401K accounts are trashed.  Our country, and world, are effectively closed down like never before.  Disruption to individuals, families, businesses and our culture is magnified beyond measurement compared to 9/11.  Yes, this is serious.  Time for us to evolve our products once again to be in step with our listeners’ changed wants, needs and desires of us.

Content Choices

We’ve all seen plenty of online discussions about if we should still be light-hearted and irreverent with morning show content and positioning.  The time for this passed on 3/11.  We weren’t being comedic about the 9/11 attacks.  No.  3/11 is worse.  Sophomoric humor and parody songs are over.  Doesn’t mean we don’t talk about the ridiculousness of the two Tennessee idiots who bought 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer or we involve listeners calling in with their stories of the pathetic panic buying behavior they have witnessed.  Those are things we can still chuckle about.  But as a society, we’re desperately searching out information that can help us separate fact from fiction so that we can begin to know how to keep our families safe.  If you’re a morning show, hit your contacts list.  Lots of LOCAL angles … doctors, mayors, health officials, first responders, elected state and federal representatives, business owners, artists, concert promoters.  These people want to speak to your audience and they have more credibility in their storytelling than us.  You should want them on your show because they and their information are what makes you more valuable to your listeners than the people on the other station.  Give your listeners what they want or they will be forced to go elsewhere to find it. 

Information Updates

As Gary Berkowitz suggested in a recent column, commit to hourly news updates across all formats.  Make sure to often promote the time listeners can hear and make appointments to tune in for those updates.  “Get updates at 15-past every hour and breaking news at once.”  No news voice at your station or cluster?  Team with a local TV partner, offering them all that free exposure in exchange for an hourly update.  With lifestyles changed, be prepared for Radio cume and TSL to be disrupted and look a lot more like the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s.  If that’s the case, is once an hour enough?

Proper Positioning

Audit your standard positioning to make sure it all still makes sense.  Does some of the edgier stuff not fit right now?

Music Movement

Review your active music library.  Are there titles with lyrics that don’t fit in this new reality?  Think about the library structure in general.  People are already craving for things to get back to a routine that is familiar to them.  Think about making your library more familiar to be in-step with that.  CHR, Hot AC, Country and Active Rock, more recurrent and late gold.  Classic Hits and ACs, reintroducing some high-testing 70s.  Classic Rock, less early 90s, more 70s.  This can be a short-term tactic that can give a more familiar comfort to your listeners.

Yes, our lives changed forever on 3/11.  We’re in uncharted territory.  We all have a responsibility to keep the industry discussion going on how we should, and can, be confident enough of our products to evolve them to best serve our listeners’ current wants, needs and desires of us.  The more collaborative discussions we have the better we’ll all be for them.  It’s our moment to shine and I know we will. 

What do you think?




Chuck Knight

I develop, sustain and grow Radio brands and talent, across multiple formats, to make them better.  It's my life-long focus and passion.  That spirit along with the knowledge and perspective learned over the years is what I can put to work for you. 




"Every aspect of your radio station goes to making the brand. It's a combination of science, art and gut."


 "It’s the Program Director's job to hear it in his or her mind and confidently coach it."



"Our biggest job is to give our people - really everyone in the radio station - confidence."