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Marfa’s public radio desires to relieve your social isolation during the pandemic


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Marfa’s public radio desires to relieve your social isolation during the pandemic

MARFA, Tex. — From a small newsroom inside an old renovated service station off Highway 67, the tiny staff at Marfa Public Radio has been reporting on the implications of coronavirus as closely as any big city news organization.They have interviewed health care professionals, parents who are now home schooling their kids and service industry…

Marfa’s public radio desires to relieve your social isolation during the pandemic

MARFA, Tex.– From a little newsroom inside an old remodelled service station off Highway 67, the tiny staff at Marfa Public Radio has been reporting on the implications of coronavirus as carefully as any big city news company.

They have interviewed health care specialists, parents who are now home education their kids and service industry employees who have actually been laid off from their tasks– all to put a human face to the story and to reveal what it is like for an area mostly considered a haven for artists to go on lockdown.

However even in this remote town, located in the middle of the sprawling Chihuahuan desert, hours from any major airport or city, some at the station questioned if they shouldn’t be doing more

While the majority of people who live in and around Marfa are drawn here due to the fact that of the space and solitude, it is a various thing to have isolation forced upon you, especially at a dark and unsure minute for the nation’s health and economy.

” The question for us began to be … how do we support our listeners? It’s not just reporting, which is necessary,” stated Elise Peppler, the station’s basic manager. “It is equally important that we use the capacity of radio to link people and boost people.”

The studio of Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Tex.
The studio of Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Tex. (Holly Bailey/The Washington Post)

A self-described extrovert who has personally battled with social distancing, Peppler had actually been moved by videos of quarantined Italians singing to each other from their balconies to raise spirits as that nation stays on lockdown because of covid-19 She discovered the clips heartbreaking, but beautiful. “I resembled, this is what we require,” she said.

That is where the pop vocalist Robyn can be found in. Last Friday afternoon, after days of dark headlines and growing worry in the neighborhood about the lasting effect of covid-19, Peppler scrapped the evening’s scheduled programs in favor of what she referred to as a mental health break. She announced a two-hour social seclusion dance party that she called “Dancing by yourself,” influenced by Robyn’s 2010 hit.

In an area where many locals live far apart, Peppler sought to re-create the intimacy of those Italian events by inviting listeners to join a station-sponsored Zoom chat, where they might see others dancing in the boundaries of their own houses. She asked others to send videos or post clips on social media. “Why not be together being alone?” she informed listeners.

Many responded, posting videos of themselves dancing to songs like George Michael’s “Freedom” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” One woman published a selfie of her twirling with a plate piled with newly fried chicken to Whitney Houston’s “I Wan na Dance with Someone”– the kind of mainstream, feel-good pop fare that usually does not get much airplay on public radio.

However that was the entire point: to make people feel great and offer them some escape, at least briefly, from a worrying time. “It is equally our tasks right now to raise individuals’s spirits when we can do that,” Peppler stated.

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” Marfa is a very town with beside zero public resources,” checked out an indication on one shuttered storefront.

A sign posted on a store closed because of the coronavirus in Marfa, Tex.
A sign posted on a shop closed because of the coronavirus in Marfa, Tex. (Holly Bailey/The Washington Post)
A flier for a canceled public event on a public bulletin board in Marfa, Tex. Much of the region has gone on lockdown amid coronavirus.
A flier for a canceled public occasion on a public bulletin board system in Marfa, Tex. Much of the area has actually gone on lockdown amid coronavirus. (Holly Bailey/The Washington Post)

Without any known cases of the virus yet, three counties in the region– Presidio, Brewster and Jeff Davis– have taken unprecedented actions to keep it that way. In recent days, county authorities have ordered all hotels and accommodations closed, including Airbnbs and camping areas in and around Huge Bend National Park where Texans from around the state had actually come to find shelter from the pandemic prior to being turned away.

In Marfa, a town of about 2,000 where lots of residents work jobs that are touched in some way by tourism, that news was bittersweet— a relocation that would protect the health of those who reside in the city, but leave lots of out of work, much more separated than typical at a moment of unpredictability unlike any in current memory.

For Peppler, the uncertain times mean a greater mission for her station in finding ways to get in touch with listeners and to assist them link with each other, at a time when discovering neighborhood and solace with one another may be the only way to make it through.

Last week, MPR began airing a public service statement asking listeners to call and leave a voice mail for the station talking about how their everyday regimens had changed and even merely saying how they were doing.

But the station has actually also tried to showcase some levity.

On Saturday night, as much of Marfa sat silent and empty, the streets illuminated by the red radiance of the setting sun, host Joe Nick Patoski began the station’s weekly Texas music hour with songs that appeared jokingly customized to the moment, consisting of Barbara Lynn’s 1964 single, “Don’t Proclaim.”

” I understand a lot of folks out there in radio land have actually been feeling a little worry, self quarantining, separating themselves alone,” Patoski stated. “Well, I have actually got the antidote right here, right now. … We may be partying in place, however ain’t nothing going to stop us.”

” With Texas music, all things are possible in your life,” he added, “although it does assist to clean your hands extremely thoroughly.”

A copy of the weekly Big Bend Sentinel newspaper in a hotel in Marfa, the day before county officials closed all public lodging to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A copy of the weekly Huge Bend Guard newspaper in a hotel in Marfa, the day prior to county officials closed all public lodging to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Holly Bailey/The Washington Post)

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