I will be meeting with our Health & Safety Committee in three days to renew our discussions on the lower-risk options to slowly reopen the station. Our discussion will entail ways that we can manage guests, monitor vaccination status, maintain masking indoors, continue our “if sick, stay home” policy, and other challenges and realities of moving from one pandemic phase to another. In addition, we will begin the process of sending out another staff survey to gauge everyone’s comfort level about re-entering the building.
It’s clear this virus will remain with us for some time, if not forever. Experts fear that Covid-19 cases in the United States will rise in the next few weeks as the new variant continues to spread. Dr. Fauci, said given the growing prevalence of BA.2, he expects cases will increase within the next month. We can’t predict how much it will continue to impact our well-being, and station operations. Yet, we do know what works to minimize and will continue to use those tools as our next phase of safety protocols evolves.
Our health and safety restrictions are strict and for good reason. As Stewart my overriding responsibility is protecting the health and welfare of the staff. Our radio station’s essential workers are primarily a technical staff. A very talented bunch of folks who do very specific jobs. God forbid if two or three of these people were ill at the same time. We simply don’t have a deep enough bench of well skilled folks to cover them. It’s been my recurring nightmare for the last three years. As spacious as our station may seem to some, it’s not big enough to keep this virus from derailing our broadcast schedule. On the other hand, we have experimented a bit with allowing a few late night and weekend music programmers to enter. This works because the station is virtually empty except for them. Of course, vaccinations must be up-to-date, and no guests or visitors are allowed.
For the Grateful Dead marathon, we did a trial run allowing Tim Lynch and David Gans to have a band in our performance studio. They had to verify the band’s vaccination status and enforce mask wearing and social distancing when the players were not performing. Make no mistake we will continue being very cautious and sticking to what’s working. I’d like to take a moment to thank Tim Lynch and David Gans for their years of dedication and passion supporting KPFA. This year’s Grateful Dead Marathon raised 50 thousand dollars in our Winter Fund Drive. It’s important to point out that 93% of the donations came directly from online. More on the drive in a minute.
While we’re on the topic of specials a round of applause for the producers of the following broadcasts. The Black History Month daylong event aired February 21st and featured African American voices, stories, music, and culture. Special thanks to Executive Producer Jeannine Etter and Assistant Producer Prema Jackson for coordinating the broadcast and its content creators.
The International Women’s Day Special Broadcast was Sunday March 13th. The day featured content from 27 producers about a diverse set of topics that celebrated the stories of women and shed light on issues affecting them. Special thanks to Executive Producer Margo Okazawa-Rey for coordinating the broadcast and providing support to the rest of the IWD team.