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Is there a bright side?

Blog from Heather Adams, Executive Director, BCTV

Is there a bright side?

I hope that you are well, and doing your best to make lemonade with the current onslaught of lemons. The COVID-19 crisis is something that will forever shape our world. I commend each of you for doing your part, doing what you must, and doing what you can.

In such an overwhelming and difficult atmosphere, sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and peer into the core of things.

This time of upheaval has been a true test for our community. We have each been thrown into doing things in all new ways. Places and tasks that were once familiar and comfortable have become daunting, and suspect. I believe we are ALL starting to hope that maybe somewhere beyond the heartburn and uncertainty that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least an emerging rhythm in this promised ‘new normal’ that we can deem even remotely manageable.

BCTV remains dedicated to keeping information accessible for you, not just during this tumultuous situation, but always. Yes, it was necessary to cancel and postpone events and fundraisers that we look forward to and rely on. Yes, your programming and schedules have been turned upside down and our resources have been strained. And yet, we are continuously adapting (as we know you are, too) in order to prepare ourselves assuming there are more changes and hurdles to come. I cannot thank our staff, volunteers, producers, board, and the entirety of Berks County for your graciousness, support, and understanding.

We are committed to our mission, and to you. My 93 year old great-aunt is primarily isolated in her senior living apartment. Last week she told me that she has been watching a lot of ‘my programs’ because it is ‘nice to hear regular people talking about different things’. A local nurse told a staff member that she watches the daily Department of Health update through our website. A program producer sent a note to tell us that she relies on our email for the day’s updates on local impact and efforts. An organization reached out to see if we could help create a transcript of a video so they could deliver health and safety information to their constituents. And every day more organizers, officials, and citizens are requesting that we help ‘let people know’ about things.

THAT is why. That is the heart of ‘community access’. Letting people know.

Our goal is to continue to be a beacon, keeping citizens ‘informed and involved’, and doing our best to keep you connected – especially while you are distanced. More than ever, each of us needs a trustworthy source, a touchpoint for reference, and a reliable reminder of reality and care. I hope that throughout this time you find helpful, intriguing, and telling pieces that resound with you.

There was no crash course on ‘how to do this correctly’. No simulation or emergency manual that could contain all of the instructions we would need. Our staff is performing essential duties to empower and engage through media. We are practicing safe distancing, masking, staggered shifts, and implementing remote work opportunities where they make sense. We have of course kept our studio closed to the public for the time being.

But guess what else is happening?

We are finding new ways to platform content and programming, and people are excited to participate. We are rising to the occasion to be sure that our county and city officials can still be heard, wherever they are speaking from. We are activating and encouraging writers and journalists and everyday citizens to help us curate and chronicle this time in history for Berks County. We are flexing new muscles in being proactive and reactive as the situation calls for it, and helping organizations across our community share their good work, needs, and services. Certainly there have been hiccups, missteps, and false starts. And you have graciously learned right along with us…because communication is vital. Sharing and knowing is critical.

We are using some of our unprecedented ‘free’ time to evaluate and innovate on each one of these newly explored areas so that we can be stronger going forward. The seed was there all along…enter water and sunshine.

The past month has reignited a relevancy in what community media  can do to connect and engage us as citizens. Across the country, small media organizations like ours are bursting to life to fill gaps and create connections. To keep you educated and curious. To give voices where many have been silenced. Yes, we can show this with analytics, and graphs, and numbers. But more importantly, it can be seen and FELT – through worried calls taken and solutions created. Through thank you’s across platforms, and spotlights shone on good work and vital conversations. And maybe most importantly, with much needed glimpses of humanity and art and reassurance shared and discussed. As we continue to feel the sharp uptick in demand for engagement and knowledge from a community that is driven to be resilient, we will deliver.

This is no time to gloss over the severity and importance of what is happening in the world right now, but as we have been encouraging each of you to ‘stay positive’ and ‘look for the good’, we took that advice to heart. There will be an end to this situation. And whenever that may be, I hope we are all able to come out stronger. Ready. Looking at things differently. Embracing a renaissance in whatever shape it presents itself. We are proud to be able to serve you.

Maybe there really is a #BrightSideBerks.



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