The supercharged news cycles over the last few years have put WGBH’s journalists in fighting shape. But as it turns out, they were just warming up. The COVID-19 crisis has put those muscles to a mighty test — to help listeners sort, sift and comprehend the firehose of information about the virus’s impact on the state.

When it became clear that the coronavirus would take a staggering toll in Massachusetts, WGBH News stepped up in mid-March to launch In It Together, a nightly radio show hosted by WGBH’s All Things Considered Host Arun Rath. The show is also available as a podcast, which has been downloaded more than 16,000 times. Rath was recently named best radio personality by Boston Magazine in its annual Best of Boston edition.

“The pace of the past four years is what prepared us for jumping in and doing this so quickly,” says Phil Redo, WGBH general manager for radio and local news, who conceived the idea for the show. He had the thought on Friday, March 13, and the show went live the following Tuesday.

“In a time of great uncertainty, we want to offer listeners the information and analysis they need to navigate a rapidly changing world,” says Redo.

In It Together brings in health care professionals, pastors, musicians, small business owners and other community leaders to reflect and elaborate on the day’s developments. In the last eight weeks, the team has aired more than 40 one-hour shows, bringing more than 120 guests on-air. The program has now dropped to a half-hour, Monday through Thursday, starting at 6:30pm.

Amanda Beland, lead producer, casts a broad net for ideas, scanning newspapers across the state, tapping WGBH’s news colleagues in Boston, Cape Cod and western Massachusetts, and of course conversing with the audience.

Listeners communicate via Twitter and email (, offering praise and criticism, posing questions for guests and sending along original songs and poetry.

“People have sent in paintings, and we’ll tweet the picture while Arun is talking about the piece on the show,” says Beland.

“I’ve never worked on a show where people are as vocal about how much the show means to them,” says Beland.

One note on Twitter especially touched her.

During the show, a listener wrote, “If you’re not listening yet, Arun Rath is holding one of the most humane, generous and essential shows right now. In some ways, I’ve never been more connected to my state.”

“Choosing stories that connect with the audience — as the mood of the public is continually changing — is a challenge and a privilege,” says Beland.

“Time is on our side with this,” says Beland. “When you’re able to have a 15-minute segment on a topic, you can touch on all the moods and take the listener on a journey.”

“It’s more intimate than a typical news broadcast,” adds Rath, who broadcasts the show from a converted closet in his Lexington basement. “It harkens back to the idea of community radio as a gathering place to share thoughts.”

A man wearing headphones speaks into a radio microphone while sitting at a computer.
Rath, host of In It Together, works from his home studio setup.
Arun Rath GBH News

For the team — Rath, Beland, Senior Producer Matt Baskin and Engineer Bill Piacitelli — the rapid start-up combined with the move to broadcasting from their homes was dizzying.

The team, who usually work shoulder to shoulder, now continually communicate on Slack, even during the show. “It can get hectic,” says Beland, “with telephone calls and emails also coming in during the broadcast.”

But the challenges are not the defining experiences of producing the show.

“We meet all these people who are doing really difficult things, and by the end of the interview, they have completely inspired all of us,” says Rath.

For Beland, the show is about connection.

“I shape the show around what I would want to tell my family, my friends or my community,” she says. “What would I want them to know about the pandemic? The program has a lot of emotional significance for us.”