Facing the challenges of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and other disasters the past six months may have been unbearable for Dabawenyos but their anxieties and worries were somehow eased as Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, through the Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) 87.5 FM, journeyed with them amid these trying times.

The city government-owned DCDR 87.5 FM, which went on air on February 3 this year, has gone a long way from being a station that was originally designed to bring information on disaster preparedness and other government programs and activities to the people of Davao City.

It has since become a part of Dabawenyos’ everyday life, especially in those two months starting March 14 – when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed and strict quarantine protocols were enforced in the city. Residents seemed fearful and at a loss that resulted in panic buying and running out of safety essentials such as alcohol, surgical masks, sanitizers, and vitamin C from groceries, supermarkets, and pharmacies.

DCDR 87.5 program director Maria May “Maymay” Benedicto said Mayor Inday Sara’s Special Hour Program became a venue for the public to interact with her and air their concerns and issues.

She said in the vernacular, “Mayor Sara was on air daily for two months. There was even a time when we were on air for eight hours straight in a day. People were panicking and didn’t know what to do, where to go because they were afraid. The mayor said `Don’t worry I will be with you every day to guide you through the pandemic because we don’t want people to panic’.”

The radio station used to have regular programming but after cases of then called novel coronavirus (nCoV) started rising in Manila, the city government of Davao utilized DCDR 87.5 in giving updates to the public, even as nCoV then transitioned into what is now known as Covid-19.

From Mayor Inday Sara’s daily guesting at Special Hour for two months, it recently became a twice-a-week program from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. When DCDR was launched, the mayor started with a weekly program scheduled at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays.

Living up to expectations

What Mayor Inday Sara and DCDR envisioned together in reaching out to Dabawenyos and preparing them for any disaster was achieved in no time as the public has shown very high compliance in all government safety protocols amid the pandemic.

The question and answer question portion, according to Benedicto, made the mayor even more accessible to people.

“She entertains questions of netizens even those coming from non-Dabawenyos. The mayor has all the information the people, who have been confused with some policies, need,” she said. Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) chief Alfredo Baloran, for his part, thanked Mayor Inday Sara for her support, saying that since disaster preparedness is part of her agenda, the Disaster Radio was conceptualized.

“The mayor is very supportive and she’s always excited every time she talks during her radio program. She can’t reach everybody face to face, especially those in far-flung barangays but they get to hear her voice through the station,” Baloran said, adding that the government-ran radio station is making a difference as it paved the way for Dabawenyos to communicate directly, to share their ideas and to report anything to the mayor.

He said the Disaster Radio was established for easy information dissemination to the community during calamity and to also bare plans and programs of the city government.

DCDR is funded by the CDRRMO but its production team is composed of City Information Office employees under its head, Jefry Tupas.

Edge Davao editor-in-chief Antonio M. Ajero, meanwhile, said DCDR is a unique broadcasting outfit that is helping a lot of Dabawenyos and the multitude of listeners outside of the region hungry for updates about the pandemic and other urgent matters related to their day-to-day living in these unusual times.

“The listeners are particularly eager to know the latest from Inday, referring to instructions from City Mayor Sara Duterte on the new protocols to be observed by citizens in order to be safe from the dreaded COVID 19. That listening to Inday has become a daily ritual to tens of thousands of radio listeners speaks volumes about her charisma to constituents and non-constituents alike. One can only credit her drawing power to her candor and humor when she engages her audience,” the veteran journalist said.

Humble beginning

The 24-hour community radio station, however, was not a spur of the moment thing. Its planning stage went back to about a year before it went on air and Mayor Inday Sara was very keen for the city to have its own radio station.

The building where the station is located along Legaspi Street in Davao City is owned by Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, who joined Mayor Inday Sara, Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, and Davao de Oro Governor Tyrone Uy during the February 3 inaugural airing. The mayor and the three governors signed a manifesto of support for the station, which Mayor Inday Sara said would also be open for updates and information about the other provinces in Davao Region.

Renowned Dabawenya musician Maan Chua was also sought to compose a few jingles for the station with help from her arranger, Paolo Sis; and the Kean Gabriel Hotline 0908-8184444 (her most difficult project concept wise), Covid Hotline (Visayan), and Covid Hotline (English).

Madayaw Davao was DCDR’s pilot program and is still airing every 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., tackling weather and traffic conditions as well as interviews with government agencies. The “At Your Service” is scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m. while the Serbisyo Legal is at 11 a.m. On Mondays, a Barangay Hour is set at 10 a.m. and the daily Newsbreak is at 11 a.m. with reports from the CIO and Byaheng Do30 staff. The station also hooks up with the Philippine Information Agency in its regular virtual presser. CIO