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How technology has become an enabler for the radio and podcast industry to effectively work from home.

How Radio channels and podcast networks are recording live shows remotely amid Coronavirus threat

How technology has become an enabler for the radio and podcast industry to effectively work from home.
  • Radio and podcast companies have to work from their studios. So how are they functioning remotely amidst the Coronavirus threat?
  • Big FM and Mirchi Love have instituted work from home for the entire team. On the other hand, Radio Mirchi and IVM Podcasts are still calling their drive-time jocks and speakers, respectively, to their studios. 90% of their employees are working remotely.
  • The use of technology has enabled most of these players to allow their employees to work from home.
In wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, lots of agencies and media companies have asked their employees to work remotely, in an attempt to implement social distancing.

However, there are a lot of organisations for which working remotely might be difficult, like radio stations, that work out of their studios. So how are these radio stations dealing with the situation? Have they asked their employees to work from home and if yes, how are sole of the roles, that require people to be in studios, being carried out.

We reached out to some of the people heading a few of India's biggest radio stations to understand how they have been working.

Big FM says it has been making use of advanced technology to make work possible during a time like this. Abraham Thomas, CEO, Big FM said, "Big FM has moved completely to a remote working model where all our 59 stations are live from their homes, thanks to technology while our business teams interacted with over 500 clients, all in a day's work, from home. We believe we have two key responsibilities, a) stay safe - our teams, our families, our communities and society at large and b) stay open for business to keep the economy moving forward and people employed so that societies are able to function."

On being asked what kind of technology they are using to make their work possible from home, he added, "We had built-in contingencies and our disaster management plan helped us to shift seamlessly to remote working using our sound equipment systems connected via VPN."

Mirchi Love is also stationed at home. They are using Virtual Private Networks and softwares to do their work remotely.

Indira Rangarajan, National Programming Head, Mirchi Love, said, "Our listeners depend on us to give timely and important updates especially during times like these and we’ve geared up to do just that. However, this is not at the cost of the health of our colleagues. The entire organisation has worked together to ensure that we give our best on air while working from home. We are using all possible tools at our disposal to make this happen."

On the other hand, Yatish Mehrishi, Chief Operating Officer, Radio Mirchi said that they have allowed 90% of their employees to work remotely. Drive-time jocks are still going to the studio to record, strictly on their private vehicles. They also have a backup plan in place in case the situation worsens.

He said, “90% of our employees are working from home. We just set up a board meeting today and only the internal team was part of it, else, everybody is working from home across the country. We are asking the drive-time jockeys to come, do their shoots and go. They come and go at different times. As a broadcast medium, we have a responsibility towards the public as well. We have to send in the right messaging, be in touch with the government. However, if the situation goes out of control and jocks cannot come in, we have technology available so that they can work from home. Our IP systems are all in place, all systems are equipped to facilitate that. Right now it is not so bad a condition.”

Only one person is allowed in Radio Mirchi’s studio at a time and they are sanitising it twice a day.

So what are the challenges of having employees of a radio station work remotely? Nisha Narayanan, COO and Director, RED FM and Magic FM explained, “As a radio network, we have certain in-built studio equipment which are crucial while producing on-air shows. RED FM’s technical team is trying to make it as convenient as possible for our teams to work effectively together when working from home. Special softwares are being installed on laptops as an alternative to studio-based equipment to ensure a hassle-free production process. Through such measures, our teams are constantly working towards ensuring smooth operations even when we are working at home. Working from home has certain other set of challenges such as the teams would not be readily available for each other and delay in on-air scheduling among others. Keeping in mind all these challenges we are virtually connecting everyone to ensure no work is being hampered during this period. For employees who might have to visit the office for some important work that cannot be done from home, we have arranged for all the necessary safety measures at our office.”

Narayanan further shared that the organization is taking a lot of measure to ensure that people who do have to come to office are safe. She shared that RED FM is encouraging meetings via video conference wherever possible, visitor screenings at the entry gate, increasing frequency of office sanitization and has also implemented the temporary discontinuation of biometric attendance. “We are also providing cab services to employees who might have to travel for some urgent work or in case of any emergency,” she added.

IVM has also instituted work from home for most of its employees. However, for some, it is still a work-in-progress.

“It's a tremendous challenge given our busy studio recording schedules. We've instituted WFH for most people and want everyone to be safe,” said Amit Doshi, Founder, IVM Podcasts.

Kavita Rajwade, Co-founder of IVM Podcasts, adds, “Our studio is not 100% shut but we are minimising operations from there. We are going to temporarily move to recording online and remotely.”
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