Toronto’s boom 97.3 launches ‘COVID-free Fridays’ to combat listener fatigue

Feeling like you have COVID-19 fatigue? From commercials to news headlines to an inbox full of emails from every service provider you’ve ever dealt with, audiences – for most now entering their sixth or seventh week of social distancing – have been inundated with an overwhelming amount of messaging, often riffing on a plethora of what have become pandemic memes in these “unprecedented” and “uncertain” times.

Feeling that fatigue set in amongst its own staff, boom 97.3 (CHBM-FM) Toronto has launched “Covid-Free Fridays,” committing to two hours of up-tempo music and good news every Friday morning, without mention of the ongoing pandemic.

“A couple of us were talking last week about Covid and how we’re drowning in it,” program director Troy McCallum told Broadcast Dialogue. “Commercials, news, social media… basically everywhere we turn it’s EVERYWHERE (obviously) and it’s just too much. We need a break…it’s a chance for our audience to escape with Stu Jeffries and get the weekend off to a good start.”

The two-hour commercial free block launched today, accompanied by new imaging. Canadian Traffic Network (CTN) reporters were also asked to adjust their sponsors and reports.

McCallum says response on the station’s social media and via text affirmed their suspicions that listeners were ready for a reprieve from the last few months of pandemic-dominated content.

 

“I have a pile of comments from this morning from our community and they all commented on how tired they are of hearing about it,” said McCallum. “It’s everywhere you turn, every conversation, every headline, every store you visit, every park you walk by, every news channel, radio station, every newspaper. Do we need information about it? Absolutely, but we also need balance. It creates worry, anxiety and stress – everything you don’t need to be healthy. If we can crank up non-stop music for two hours and have some fun, we should do it.”

McCallum says the station plans to continue Covid-Free Fridays every week for the forseeable future.

“The audience loved the idea. We’ll be continuing these every Friday until, well…who knows.”


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