When Neumann University shut down due to COVID-19, Neumann University station manager Sean McDonald wanted to find a way to keep students connected. He moved the university’s radio equipment into his own home, so he could keep the school’s station, 98.5 WNUW, on the air. “I want to keep them engaged, and provide them with a sense of normalcy,” he told Fox 29 Philadelphia.
He began recording people’s stories from all over the country, and sharing them on WNUW’s Facebook page, calling them Coronacasts. He’s been using ACCESS NX and FieldTap to make it happen.
This new form of programming has resulted in a bloom of creativity among students. “The beauty of a college radio station is that we’re submitting content to submit content,” said Jake Loburak, a Neumann University sophomore who has been submitting play-by-play coverage of daily life. “We’re not competing for airtime or viewership.”
Sean McDonald is focused not only on how this is keeping students connected, but also on the long-term relevance of this project. “It’s a great archival history of what Neumann University and their students did, but also of what it’s like to live during a global pandemic,” McDonald said.
Neumann University Media has been supporting broadcasting in their community in other ways, as well. For Easter, Philadelphia station WHYY had exclusive rights to broadcast an Easter Sunday mass from the Cathedral Basilica, but didn’t have an avenue to do so. Neumann Media lent a LiveShot system to WHYY, so they could do a live broadcast of the event, which was the first Easter mass conducted by the new Archbishop of Philadelphia. “LiveShot made it happen,” said McDonald.
Anyone can submit a Coronacast. Participants simply record their stories on a voice memo app and email it to the radio station, or call in and leave a voicemail. The diaries can be short or long, funny or serious, scripted or ad-libbed. To submit one yourself, send your recording to firstname.lastname@example.org.