FM Radio in the Age of COVID-19: the Case of Zagreb and Zagreb County

Author: Marina Mučalo, Anita Šulentić, Damir Jugo


Broadcasting in Croatia has been active for nearly one hundred years. In addition to the public radio service (Croatian Radio), there are also various private FM broadcasters and radio frequencies (mostly commercial). The radio is known as a flexible medium that quickly adapts to sudden emergencies. It often becomes the main source of information for its communities. During March and April 2020, Croatia was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, several strict isolation measures were imposed along with penalties for breaching said measures. Almost at the same time, on March 22 of the same year, Zagreb was hit by a strong earthquake of magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale, which was followed by dozens of weaker earthquakes in subsequent weeks. The uniqueness of this double crisis was key for researching radio programmes under such circumstances. The time frame (from March 26 to April 27, 2020) was intentionally chosen. The aim was to “record” the situation at the time when the crisis was taking place. Moreover, we were also especially motivated by the fact that the role of the radio in times of crisis has been extremely underrepresented in the recent domestic scholarly literature. Methodologically, this is qualitative and descriptive research based on the analysis of the answers from the questionnaire. Open-ended questions (30 questions) are grouped into three main categories: the organization of work on the radio, editorial policy, and communication with listeners. The questionnaire was sent to all radio broadcasters in the area of Zagreb and Zagreb County (N=22). Out of 22 radio broadcasters, 13 (56.5%) of them responded and participated. The results show that the content of the programmes, despite the double crisis, remained mostly the same, including the informative ones. With the dynamic growth and affirmation of online media, which are characterized by the same rate of information transmission as the FM radio, in mind, the question arises whether the radio can somehow retain its previous status..

Key words: COVID-19 pandemic, crisis, earthquake, FM radio, management, programm
Download: Click here.