The Power of Radio and Kindness Funds 5 Million Meals for Feeding America
Ron Stone, the CEO of Adams Radio Group that operates 25 stations across 5 American markets, watched a news story about a San Antonio food bank that caught his eye and inspired him to act. The story featured families whose lives had been up-ended by the COVID-19 pandemic shut-down and who were now waiting in line in their cars at a local food bank in order to get their next meal. The footage was a revelation for Mr. Stone, “It struck me that in these cars are parents, having heart-to-heart conversations with their kids who were asking tough questions like why are we here? Why aren’t we at the grocery store?”
Ron Stone sprang into action, researching how food banks operate and eventually discovering ‘Feeding America’, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. He pledged a funding commitment to Feeding America and then reached out to representatives from over three thousand radio stations across the country to request their participation in a one-day radiothon that he named ‘Radio Cares’, to help raise funds for the food banks. The response to Mr. Stone’s outreach was overwhelming with immediate confirmations from nearly all the stations and 300 music artists contributing pre-recorded audio spots in support of the broadcast event.
As time was of the essence, the timeframe from initial idea to event day would be three short weeks. Mr. Stone felt the need to pull all participants together for a live presentation and QA session to ensure event success. To do so, he needed a webinar solution. Receiving quotes up to $7,200 for his one-hour webinar from other vendors, Mr. Stone discovered the webinar solution offered by Intermedia, a company already supporting his 25 radio stations with Intermedia Unite® unified communications and collaboration platform, hosted Exchange email and Microsoft Office 365®.
Intermedia’s account reps rose to the occasion, offering Intermedia Webinar Pro® free of charge and then helping Mr. Stone to deploy the right solution for 623 representatives of 3,400 individual radio stations to prepare their stations to deliver the Radio Cares radiothon the very next day. Mr. Stone appreciated the quick service, “There’s not that many companies that can make that decision right there on the call. We were moving so fast, to have those guys make that decision – the empowerment they had – that speaks volumes of a company to empower people like that.” As a result of Ron Stone’s idea, vision and efforts, the Radio Cares radiothon far exceeded initial goals and ultimately raised $500,000 for the Feeding America organization.
Digitizing Adams Radio Group Communications Paid Off
Mr. Stone outfitted each of his radio stations with Intermedia solutions since launching his company in 2013. In his words, “the best thing that we did was to make all of our communications roll-up under a single company under Intermedia. We looked at various companies and made the decision to go with Intermedia. Having our phones, our email, our Office 365 all in one place – we only get one bill so that’s nice. It’s also very simple for us (to administer employee communications) when a new employee comes on-line or when one leaves.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted everyone to work remotely, Mr. Stone’s drive to digitize his 25 studios paid off. “When I shut my office down, I literally unplugged my phone from work and brought it here (to my home office) and plugged it into my router. I still had my regular office number. The only other thing I had to do was to plug in my computer here. It’s just like being in my office. Nothing really changed.”
He made the same decision to digitize his radio broadcasting system, which also made for a seamless experience when working remotely. “We were fortunate as broadcasters. When we bought into a market, we immediately upgraded to digital equipment, so all of our broadcast boards were fully digital which made it very easy for us. With just a laptop and a microphone that plugs into a USB (port), it was very easy for our announcers to take a laptop home turn it on, plug into the microphone, sign into the board back at the studio, and they’re live!”
What does the future hold for Ron Stone and Adams Radio Group? One element that is likely here to stay is video conferencing. The remote work environment prompted Mr. Stone and his team to spend more time video conferencing and to get comfortable with the technology. “Nine out of ten phone calls I do now, I’m doing video calls. I don’t just want to talk to people now, I want to see them. Sometimes I get somebody on the phone, and I have to tell them, turn on your video.” His twice weekly general manager calls have also switched from the phone to video conferences. It’s how Adams Radio Group operates now.
As the business world eventually returns to a new normal, Mr. Stone recognizes that his decision to digitize his studio operations and communications across all geographies ultimately afforded him the luxury of business continuity at a time when others were scrambling just to stay on the air. With the extra capacity available, Ron Stone was able to launch Radio Cares and fund 5 million meals for those in need. That’s a worthy outcome.
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