This column was originally published in The Davis Enterprise May 8, 2020
By Autumn Labbé-Renault
Special to The Enterprise
All is quiet within Davis Media Access as I wrap Episode 15 of the “COVID-19 Community Report” on KDRT. Last month I wrote about my decision to launch this twice-weekly live radio show.
Since then I’ve interviewed elected officials from various city councils through Congress, nonprofit and business leaders, teachers, foundation staff, social justice activists, and hospital CEOs. Each has had a piece of valuable information for our local communities, and together, they’ve helped stitch together a narrative about how our Yolo County communities are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a public affairs host, it’s my job to ask thoughtful questions that will elicit informative responses. If I do that well, then we have a good conversation that allows for good insights, and even vulnerability. We all wear our roles and titles, but we also all have our concerns during the pandemic, and people are embracing our commonalities.
Slowing down and cherishing the good things in our lives has been a common refrain, as has helping others. I’ve learned firsthand what the “Yolo way” (I think I have to credit County Supervisor Don Saylor for that phrase) is during this crisis, and it’s rooted in kindness and generosity. I’m grateful to all those who have participated in the show and expressed support for it.
I’ll admit that the urgency to push out as much local information as I could in those early weeks has ebbed, a bit, but there are still plenty of perspectives to share. It’s not that we’re clear of the pandemic; I guess I’ve just adapted somewhat to the “new normal,” and doing a radio show is part of that. For now, the show airs live at noon on Tuesdays and Fridays, and repeats at 5 p.m. both days and at noon on Sundays. You can also listen online at kdrt.org.
I’m booking guests through May, and will re-evaluate the need for the show at that time. I suspect I will continue it for a while, though perhaps not twice weekly. It takes me about 25 hours a week to prepare to go live twice weekly, and those kinds of hours aren’t supportable once we move out of crisis mode.
As I prepared for the Big Day of Giving this week — and thought longingly of the Big Day at the Dock event we generally co-produce but could not this year—I’ve spent no small amount of time reflecting on DMA’s work at this time. We’re curating videos submitted to the Yolo County Community Diary, a collaborative storytelling project helping to document this extraordinary time (https://davismedia.org/diary).
We’re meeting with individual nonprofits to help highlight what their communities are dealing with. We’ve retooled our training modules, equipment, and software to help people produce local content from their homes. We’re applying for loans and grants and trying to figure our way forward. And we’re pushing out school board meetings, and providing a wealth of educational programming for those managing distance learning from home.
In a time of crisis, local media has a big impact, connecting us to what’s relevant and important, especially at this time of physical distancing. You know this because you read this newspaper, and maybe because you listen to programming on KDRT or watch local programming on cable or online. We’re fortunate here in Davis.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Teens are using Zoom to produce new episodes of “Teens on Topic.” KDRT programs are learning to produce radio from the comfort of their own homes, and I’ll host Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) this Friday. Please check out Davis Media Access on YouTube and tune into KDRT 905.7 FM or kdrt.org. There’s a wealth of perspectives right here in our now community.
— Autumn Labbe-Renault has served as DMA’s executive director since 2007, where she writes and blogs about a wide variety of media issues. Learn more at http://davismedia.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 530-757-2419.