Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, WTIP has focused our monthly Community Conversations on issues that deeply affect the health and well-being of Cook County residents. Since March 2020, our small news team has extensively covered the potential and current local public health impacts of COVID-19. We have a great working relationship with our local health organizations, and panel discussions about COVID-19 have included the Cook County Public Health Administrator, local physicians, hospital administrators and elected officials.
The WTIP news team has also built an ongoing, public discussion around how our community handles the delicate and sometimes precarious balance between public health concerns and keeping our local economy solvent, especially related to tourism, our main industry. Recently, we tackled the topic of COVID-19 and re-opening our area schools.
In keeping with our commitment to provide a community forum and welcome the voices of community members, WTIP invited officials from all four Cook County schools to discuss the opening plan for schools this fall. Past Community Conversations have included a live panel of knowledgeable guests and had a call-in option for listeners. Because we have had to limit the number of people at the station, WTIP had to change the way we produce and engineer the show, relying on Zoom to connect our panel members, and asking our listeners to submit questions ahead of time. The public response has been overwhelming and very positive. Like so many other organizations, we have been forced to pivot our way of doing things, in order to keep our staff and community safe, while never losing sight of our mission.
One of our core values is to “recognize the voices and perspectives of everyone in our community, particularly young people and elders.” WTIP’s monthly Community Conversations have proven to be the best format to welcome in listeners and key voices into a larger conversation. We are truly building community, and it’s something that we’re very proud of.