The demand for the latest correct information about corona is high among the public. Cilla Benkö, CEO of Sveriges Radio writes about the continued work to reach listeners with often vital content at the company that must not be silenced.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the Public Media Alliance will be publishing Insight from public media leaders about how their organisations are coping and providing audiences with critical news, information and education during the crisis.

This week we have republished a blog written for Swedish Radio by their Director General, Cilla Benkö.

27 March 2020

By Cilla Benkö, Director General Swedish Radio

Both Sweden and the world are currently going through what can probably be described as one of the largest global trials in modern times, at least in peacetime. Every day, new information about infections, deaths, new regulations from governments and authorities comes both here in Sweden and around the world. There is a huge amount of information and many messages that we all receive.

In such a situation, it is especially important that credible and independent media can offer both daily news reporting, which sometimes changes minute by minute, as well as in-depth issues and analysis. We need media that can report and review the political, economic and scientific messages we are currently facing.

One of the media companies that is booming right now is ours – Swedish Radio.

We did not know that when we decided on our new vision – the one that applied from the 1 January 2020 – “More voices and stronger stories for a greater understanding“, how extraordinarily important it would be just a few months later.

Every day we notice how great the need for credible and independent news media is for the Swedish people and how the audience turns to us because many people already see us as a credible guide. As soon as we open up to the audience to participate, ask questions and think, the pressure is great. This applies both when our own employees sit in the studio with external experts to answer questions, and when, for example, P3 News has a dialogue with the audience on Instagram

We have a routine, a well-functioning organisation and a contingency plan to lean on. We are the company in Sweden that never falls silent.

We are the media company in Sweden that is the hub for the civilian part of the total defence, through our important contingency mission, in that we are the only company that has a structure that works even when, for example, all electricity ceases to function. In such a situation, Swedish Radio can still reach out with important social information and such important journalism throughout the country, via the usual classic FM radio.

Today, we are located in more than 50 locations throughout the country – we broadcast from early morning to late evening – and we, as few others can, connect the local with the national and the global thanks to the largest correspondent network in the Nordic region. Via Swedish Radio and our minority language editions, we also give the audience vital information in 10 different languages, when no other social service does.

We also have a great habit of inviting the audience to co-create. Something we are doing right now through the #klaracorona initiative where we gather and highlight the initiatives that are taking place around the country to try to help Sweden through the crisis.

Our ongoing work

When the coronavirus came to Sweden, Swedish Radio was thus well equipped to cope with the stresses caused by the pandemic. At the same time, one must remember that what we are experiencing has never been experienced before. We have to monitor both national and international crises simultaneously – a health crisis as well as an economic and societal crisis with far-reaching effects that are still impossible to know the consequences of. At the same time, we must deal with a major internal challenge, to ensure the health of our employees and to secure our socially important mission.

Many employees are struggling. But they work hard and are loyal to their assignments regardless of the pressure. Despite the fact that many employees are working away from the editorial offices, we can continue to give the audience news, depth, knowledge and increased understanding as well as music, laughter and entertainment as well as crucial company for some.

So far, we have not had to completely abandon any part of our business. Of course, every day we make a number of crucial priorities and re-priorities in order for Swedish Radio to give the entire Swedish people what they demand and need.

The classic linear radio that many still prioritise has gained more listeners and those who listen stay with us longer. Many have also discovered that SR Play is the ultimate app for those who want everything as well as different things at different times depending on their need and mood.

It may not be a coincidence that the Swedish audience today listens less to streamed music and more to Swedish Radio. With us are the people, the voices, the debate and the dialogue – and again someone to hold hands. Someone who helps to sift through all the facts and who creates a greater understanding.

Daily Swedish Radio listeners have gone up by 200,000 to 5.1 million per day. We’ve seen the largest increase in regular linear listeners for channels P4 and P1 where, for example, a single programme such as P1-Morning now has close to a million people tuning in every morning. Listeners to Top News has doubled, today almost four million clips are started each week.

These are just some of the numbers we have received this past week, an acknowledgement that the audience today has a greater need for Swedish Radio than ever. We take this confidence very seriously and will do our utmost to live up to your expectations during this crisis that we have no idea when it will subside and what the long-term effects will be.

Finally two nice reactions we received from the audience:

“Thank you so much for sending one
live concert with Beethoven in these times! ”

“Warm thanks to everyone at SR who is currently working hard
to give all of us citizens access to current information
and updates about the Coronavirus. Thanks also for the lovely
selection of programmes for children on SR play. It’s wonderful
as a parent to have access to this fine material
in these times. “

We are the ones to thank – thank you for choosing Sweden Radio during these times.

Cilla Benkö

Our thanks to Cilla Benkö and Swedish Radio. Originally published in Swedish via the Swedish Radio blog


Header Image: Cilla Benkö, VD Sveriges Radio. Foto: Mattias Ahlm/Sveriges Radio