The Source Newsletter 
  June 2020 Return to Pandemics Page
Dashboard Distancing
Radio Rediscovered as Medium for Pandemic Safety
It's a remarkable acknowledgment that AM radio – 100 years old in 2020 – continues to be the most convenient and universal means of getting audio programming into cars. Thousands of pop-up, license-free radio stations have appeared in the parking lots of churches, schools – and even cemeteries – to allow people to attend services and ceremonies safely. Ironically, the medium that has brought us to together since 1920 has demonstrated that it is also remarkably good at communicating with us separated.


At Dallas Baptist University, administrators took advantage of FCC rules allowing educational institutions to broadcast on-property, so the University's large graduating class students could grab diplomas as they snaked past a makeshift stage in a “Commencement Parade.” The school employed the EventCAST LIVE System to pull off the transmission in real time.

At the other end of the spectrum: Grand Rapids Michigan’s NexTech High School only had a graduating class of 35, but to each of those 35, the ceremony was no less significant. Principal Dan McMinn: " The skies were blue and the families were able to drive in and take over the parking lot, while our seniors were able to have their moment in the sun. NexTech was able to share the ceremony with families that may not have been able to attend in a traditional manner.” The high school employed the company’s license-free InfOspot System to do the transmission under a separate FCC license-free rule section.

In the examples that follow, one of these two aforementioned radio systems are employed to make the broadcasts happen.

Principal Dan McMinn stands observing as the InfOspot Antenna System transmits graduation proceedings at NexTech High in Grand Rapids, MI.  Photo by Bill Baker

Families and graduates listen to a graduation ceremony while distancing in their cars, mixed with the caps and gowns, balloons and window signs.  Photo by Bill Baker

Arguably the most prolific advocates for localized radio is churches and synagogues, many that are broadcasting services into parking lots.  Photo Courtesy of Gig Harbor, WA, Church.


Arguably the most prolific and avid advocate for localized radio are churches and synagogues, many of which are broadcasting the audio feed from their services into parking lots. Says one church spokesperson from Gig Harbor, Washington: “We connected a small mixer for a keyboard and singers and wireless mic receiver for the pastor. Everything worked flawlessly.”

Sprawling Saddleback Church utilized the EventCAST System at their main campus near Lake Forest, California, for a drive-in communion service attended by hundreds of participants.

How does one proceed with a burial service, when the “dearly beloved gathered here” can number only ten? Companies such as Dignity Memorial and Family Legacy have turned to radio to broadcast services to people attending at a safe distance. Portable radio systems are transported to each gravesite and connected in tandem with the sound systems normally used. At Wisconsin’s Memorial Park near Brookfield, Wisconsin, a permanent 24-7 broadcast also provides a tour of the historic cemetery for on-property visitors. A special program allowed Memorial Day visitors to participate via special programming created for that weekend.
Meetings & Special Events

Agencies as varied as the City of Riverside, California, to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Authority in New Jersey are convening  meetings in vehicles that are normally held indoors Del Mar Fairgrounds, the site of the San Diego County Fair, had to cancel the Fair this spring but this summer will hold movie and family events in large lots, so attendees can participate "in vehicular."

At Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma, the symphony orchestra will be performing this summer not only “under the stars” but also “into in cars” for patrons who come to lot-based performances.
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