Increase for radio bingo as Valley residents, others eye pandemic launch

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Oct. 15, 2020: Radio bingo caller Tony Bove. Valley Heritage Radio estimates that participation in the weekly bingo has grown by between 25 and 50 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic. (Credit Jason Marshall, Valley Heritage Radio)
Radio bingo caller Tony Bove. Picture by Jason Marshall /Valley Heritage Radio

Valley Heritage Radio started broadcasting charity bingo quickly after first happening the air in 2007, however in line with station supervisor Jason Marshall, gross sales of bingo playing cards — an excellent indication of viewers measurement — has elevated by between 25 and 50 per cent because the pandemic hit. Nowadays, about 2,500 sheets, every with six playing cards, are bought at practically 30 Ottawa Valley venues every week.

“It was fairly a noticeable spike,” he says. “It’s turn out to be the factor to do within the Ottawa Valley on a Thursday night time. The leisure worth is large and, earlier than COVID, we’d see individuals collect in garages and rec rooms. They’re nonetheless doing that, however socially distancing. A minimum of we hope so.”

The pastime, he provides, is a consolation for many who face higher isolation due to COVID.

“Folks like to tune into bingo as a result of it offers them that sense of normalcy, that sense that issues are going to be OK.”

Station accounts and occasions supervisor Kelly McNulty provides that many listeners throughout the pandemic maintain “digital listening events” remotely, over Zoom or Facetime. “All of them have their very own playing cards, and so they’re chatting and enjoying collectively, particularly youthful listeners.”

At stake every week is $300 for one line or 4 corners, $500 for 2 traces, and $1,000 for a full card. Often, prizes are augmented with, say, pizza or another incentive. Listeners cellphone in once they’ve gained, and the sport is paused whereas their card is electronically checked.

Participation, in the meantime, isn’t restricted solely to Ottawa Valley residents, with some scanning and sending playing cards to associates and kinfolk in such faraway lands as Prague and Democratic Republic of Congo, the place the published may be accessed on-line. A bunch of Edmonton fiddlers, says Marshall, initially grew to become followers of the station, and are actually common bingo gamers.