Updates on KTOO’s operations during the COVID-19 emergency

Update, March 24, 2:15 p.m.

This week all of our services are still up and operating.  We have further reduced staff at the KTOO Studios building to just our control room operators and live radio news hosts.  Everyone else is working from home.  We have pulled all of our Gavel Alaska staff out of the State Capitol building but Gavel Alaska is still providing full service, using the Legislature’s AKLeg.tv cameras in committee rooms and our own remote controlled cameras in House and Senate chambers.  We’re taking these steps to make sure the KTOO Studios building is as safe as possible for the remaining staff, and also to meet our social responsibility to help flatten the curve by minimizing personal contacts.

The CBJ daily briefings continue on KTOO-FM at 6:50 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.  We have also been airing CBJ Assembly meetings live on KTOO-FM on 104.3.

Update, March 17, 3:37 p.m. – Member drive suspended, staff work at home requirements increasing, daily CBJ briefing

Today we decided to suspend our live on-air membership drive.  Instead, you will hear brief recorded messages asking for your financial help.

Also today we’re implementing a more comprehensive “work at home” policies for the KTOO staff, limiting the number of people in our studios to a handful of staff members who are needed to keep us on the air on TV and radio.  We’re giving the priority to our news staff, Gavel Alaska crew and our our on air hosts for Morning Edition, Juneau Afternoon, All Things Considered and newscasts.  Most of our staff are now equipped to work at home, and we are conducting all of our meeting via video with Zoom.  The KTOO building is closed to anyone but staff and our IT contractors.

We are also working the CBJ to arrange twice-daily briefings with the Mayor, City Manager and other Juneau officials.  We have scheduled a daily briefing on Juneau Afternoon at 3:45 and expect to add a morning briefing on Morning Edition soon.

Update, March 13, 3:28 p.m. – Gavel Alaska plans

We have a made a change to KTOO’s emergency operations plan.  The Gavel Alaska team just met and decided to maintain regular coverage of the Legislature for another week, and reevaluate next Friday (or sooner if events warrant). We took into account the decision the Legislature announced earlier this afternoon to close the Capitol to the public effective today at 5. That means that Gavel Alaska will be more essential than ever to keeping the public informed, and it also means the Capitol building will be safer for our crew. We are offering crew members the opportunity to opt out if they are concerned, and we have decided that all our crew will be paid in full through the end of the session, even if they are sick and can’t report to work, or if the Legislature adjourns early.

Original post: March 13, 2020: A message from KTOO’s General Manager

As we all face the inevitable disruptions to our lives as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, I want you to know about the steps KTOO is taking to keep our community informed while protecting the safety of our employees and volunteers.  We are committed to providing uninterrupted service on radio, television and online to the best of our ability.

We are implementing plans to assure that we can continue to broadcast and report the news.  And we are taking the necessary steps to protect our employees by allowing our staff to work from home and reducing the number of visitors to our studios.  We have implemented an emergency leave policy which allows employees to take time off if they are exposed, have symptoms, need to care for family members or are self-quarantined.

So that you know exactly what steps we are taking, I am sharing the emergency plan we implemented today.  The plan is below.

On behalf of everyone at KTOO, thank you for your support during these difficult times, and I want to reiterate our commitment to keeping the community connected and informed.  Our hearts go out to those who have been affected.

Bill Legere, President and General Manager


March 13, 2020: KTOO’s Emergency Plan

This plan is designed to protect the health and safety of KTOO employees while maintaining essential operations in the event of a local public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak.  Because conditions may change quickly, the plan is subject to change at any time.

  1. Medical leave for staff:  We have created an administrative policy outlining expanded leave benefits for KTOO employees, including paid emergency leave for staff members who test positive or have been exposed to another person who tests positive.  We are providing leave for any staff member who needs to care for a family member, out-of-school children.
  2. The KTOO Studios will be closed to the general public, and only regular KTOO and CoastAlaska staff and employees of our IT support firm will be allowed to enter. The doors will remain locked at all times.
  3. Employees will be encouraged to work from home when possible.  Each employee should talk with their supervisor to discuss responsibilities during the time when this plan is in effect, and together decide when it is appropriate to work remotely.
  4. Some employees will still be required to report to work at KTOO, to maintain essential operations on radio and TV.  We will take whatever steps we can to minimize their contact with other people.  Employees who are required to report to work will be encouraged to avoid contact with each other, and if possible, report to work early or late in the day or on weekends.
  5. Locally hosted music programs on KRNN and KXLL will be suspended, and we will rely on the automation schedule to provide programming on the music stations.
  6. Juneau Afternoon guests will appear only via phone or Skype, and depending on activity in the community, Juneau Afternoon may be suspended.
  7. If the Legislature continues to meet in the State Capitol, we will reduce our scheduled Gavel Alaska coverage to a single event at time, with one camera operator and no audio operator in the capitol, and one control room crew member at a time doing the titling.  If the outbreak is severe, we may suspend Gavel Alaska.
  8. Community use of the KTOO conference room will be suspended.
  9. KTOO’s Studio 1 will suspend production of all programs with an audience or guests.
  10. In-person meetings at KTOO will be suspended.  Board, Advisory Board and staff meetings will be conducted by phone or Zoom.
  11. KTOO staff participation in any outside community events will be suspended.
  12. IT and engineering service will be limited only to tasks that are required to keep us on the air.