As we collectively try to find our bearings in the COVID-19 world we find many individuals, businesses, organizations and groups looking for ways to help their communities. One group who already played a significant role in their local areas are local radio stations. Under the stewardship of Ron Stone President/CEO of Adams Radio Group, independent radio stations across North America are coming together under the Independent Radio Association banner to create a unique event to raise money for Feeding America; an inspiring non-profit that provides hunger relief and support for food banks across the country.
We spoke to Ron Stone to learn more about this incredible initiative.
Hi Ron! Tell us more about how you got the idea for this initiative.
This whole thing started, believe it or not, just watching the evening news one day last week. I was watching the evening news, a story on a food bank in San Antonio, Texas, and there were 10,000 cars in the parking lot. I am in Minnesota and this was on national news. I’m looking at the cars that are in this parking lot and you could look at the cars and tell, these were people that were not normally visiting a food bank.
I started thinking about the conversations that might be happening in these cars with children, trying to understand why they were in this parking lot, getting food, getting groceries from this place versus probably two weeks earlier that they might’ve been at a grocery store with their parents getting groceries. And I’m trying to understand how these parents might be trying to explain this to their children.
It struck me that there are so many people that live on the edge like that. You know, they pay their bills each month and they buy their groceries and they take care of their families and they’re doing that month in and month out. They go from that normal life that they had to all of a sudden, they’re in a car, in a parking lot at a food bank trying to get food to feed their family.
It just really moved me, so I thought this is a huge opportunity for radio, especially independent radio to maybe come together and do something big. I sat down and wrote a letter to broadcasters. You know, how do you address thousands of independent radio stations and ask them if they would be willing to set aside competitive differences and work together on a project?
I emailed it out to a couple thousand stations, and I started getting a response back almost immediately and it was a positive response. I got very excited because I knew there was a lot of people that were thinking similarly that this is a good opportunity to do something really wonderful. And from there, the movement started growing.
It sounds like you’ve had a great response so far! Can you tell us a bit about who is taking part?
By Friday of last week we had about 1200 stations that had signed up and by Monday of this week we were up to 1500 stations. Benztown heard what was going on and reached out and offered to produce all the audio, and video. Then I got a call from Sun BGI and they offered access to their inventory on 6,000 radio stations around the country. Vipology offered to host a site for all the materials being produced for the stations participating. MRN Network that handles shows like Nascar Today has offered to help. It really has grown into just an incredible radio centric opportunity. We’re talking about radio stations from towns as small as Crookston, Minnesota to New York City and LA.
No matter what it does, it’s going to be a phenomenal opportunity for us as an industry to contribute to this much needed cause. 60 million Americans are food challenged at this very minute. I think we’re all going to be very proud of this event when it’s all said and done.
This is also going to be a very loud statement about the power of radio, so I’m very excited about it for that reason as well.
Can you tell us about how the event will unfold and plans for the day?
We’re going to pre-promote for two days going into it and we’re going to have the event on the 30th of April, from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM local time zones, and then we’re going to continue to promote people to go to the www.feedingamerica.org/radio-covid site that is designed for this event.
Every station’s going to be doing their event differently. Some stations will choose to do a full-blown radiothon and some stations may do things a bit different. We are producing a ton of material to make work for everyone. Every station will do it the way they want to produce it.
May 4th is when we will close it out and have the final total. Adams Radio will be pushing this through all our radio stations, through our streams, on our websites and social media. We are using every asset we have in our markets.
I hope this fundraiser is so successful that everybody will agree that this is an event that we should continue to do and make it an annual event. That’s my goal. I don’t want to ever see another image of a hungry child.