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  • Week In Sound: Isaias Blows Through the Tri-State

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Millions of residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut remain without power days after Tropical Storm Isaias rifled through the Tri-State Area on Tuesday.

    Neil A. Carousso produced the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880 for the week ending Friday, August 7, 2020. Hear it on the media player above.

    You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880.

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  • Brooklyn Daycare Struggles To Survive While Adjusting To COVID Era

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Education is the life’s work of a mother and daughter who provide learning resources for young children in their Brooklyn community, but the coronavirus pandemic is threatening their daycare.

    Mildred Lovell immigrated to East Flatbush from Haiti as a baby where she was raised, stared her journey as a special education teacher for more than 20 years, and opened Garden of Knowledge Day Care Center at 1657 Nostrand Avenue in February 2007 with her daughter Dheydra.

    “It brings tears to my eyes that I may not be able to reopen in September,” Mildred Lovell told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank.

    Schools and daycares are in the forefront as local governments prepare to announce reopening plans for the fall while parents and teachers express trepidation about returning to the classroom as COVID-19 threatens the most vulnerable. Mildred and Dheydra have spent the last four months listening to parents’ health and safety concerns while introducing a distance learning program.

    “During the summer time we work on sports with the children, so we continued our curriculum and we sent out equipment for sports, so they can work with their children,” Dheydra Lovell said. “It’s been successful for the most part.”

    But, that success is relative to the pandemic. Online learning is not scalable for the Garden of Knowledge Day Care Center at this point unless they start seeing new enrollment if schools do not reopen this fall or enough parents hold out.

    “I’m just keeping my faith and continue to pray so that doors can be open and children can be served in a safe manner,” said Mildred.

    They do Zoom video calls on Fridays to check in on students’ progress and work with parents to ensure children are receiving a stimulating learning experience – all things considered.

    In the meantime, Dheydra, who also provides one-on-one tutoring for autistic children, spends her days reimagining the daycare from a new socially distanced layout to stocking up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

    “Planning out our budget, planning out what we will need to do to see if we can reopen in September and still accommodate the CDC guidelines and requirements as well as provide a very safe and productive environment for our children along with our staff,” Dheydra said of their challenges ahead.

    The Garden of Knowledge Day Care Center is bleeding cash and facing an uphill financial battle as safety expenses increase and others remain constant.

    “We haven’t recovered from the loss,” Dheydra told Joe and Neil about the financial impact of its forced shutdown in March, continuing, “It’s a question of recovering, sustaining, currently, and also, preparing for the next few months because we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

    The East Flatbush daycare’s owners told WCBS 880 parents are expressing safety is priority, but as they look to return to the workplace, they will need child care services. It is a complex predicament for many families, underscoring the vitality of education for the economy.

    “These are all things that we think about to really determine us opening up in September, said Dheydra Lovell.

    Hear more about the uncertain future of education on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or the media player above.

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  • Month In Sound: July 2020

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — July 2020 was a month that saw COVID-19 cases surge outside of the Tri-State Area with clusters caused by large gatherings, nationwide protests for civil justice turned violent, and the nation mourns civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis.​

    Neil A. Carousso produced the Month In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880. Hear it on the media player above.

    You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week In Sound or Month In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880.

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  • NYC Tech Startup Credits Fast Recovery, Growth To Sales Ops Change

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Don White, co-founder and chief executive officer, of Satisfi Labs, Inc. was not sure his Artificial Intelligence company would survive the coronavirus pandemic, but since March he made several quick pivots that has led to his sales doubling year-over-year.

    “We’ve transitioned from a regional sales team to a vertical sales team,” White told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank.

    His sales team had previously focused on national clients by location, which allowed account executives to schedule a number of in-person meetings with clients and leads to maximize business trips. When the pandemic halted non-essential travel, White, along with many other business owners and individuals, saw the value and efficiency in video conferencing platforms.

    “We give your customers expertise, someone that knows ski resorts in-and-out, someone that knows the museum industry in-and-out, baseball in-and-out,” he explained. “That’s a pretty big shift for us.”

    White believes it is a viable, long-term shift with promising early results.

    Satisfi Labs’ clients are in sports, entertainment, hospitality and retail – all of which had been shut down and severely impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic. His most notable clients include Major League Baseball teams such as the New York Mets, the National Football League, Hilton hotels, Universal Orlando Resort, Macy’s and more. The startup provides automated customer services through its proprietary A.I. platform that allows its clients to swiftly and accurately communicate with customers while enhancing customers’ tangible experience with the brand.

    When gatherings were banned due to the pandemic, Satisfi Labs’ monthly revenue plummeted 85 percent.

    “Now, someone who covers the Georgia Aquarium can now cover an aquarium in California and have the same relationship,” White said, continuing, “We originally felt that at least one or two face-to-face meetings a year were required for relationships, but I think now the world has adopted that digital relationships are just fine and video calls have replaced the fly in.”

    In addition to making a key structural change, Satsifi Labs launched “COVID Assistance” in the early weeks of the pandemic as a way to help other businesses communicate with their customers about their pandemic responses and business changes. White said they are offering the product for free as a way to attract new leads.

    “That’s a way that I think we twisted it to say, ‘Look, let’s help you first, let’s not come at you with a pitch right away, but let’s do something to help you get out of this. And when you come out of this, hopefully, you’ll remember us,'” White said.

    He told Connolly and Carousso launching an adjacent service at the outset is a proactive approach other businesses can learn from in responding to a crisis.

    “It’s just a unique way to build relationships that we hadn’t done in the past,” he said.

    He is hopeful those leads will convert to clients who may want to streamline their customer experiences post-pandemic when it’s clear what market changes and consumer demands have taken shape.

    “Our talent pool has so much increased by having remote has a non-issue,” he said, telling WCBS 880 he is starting to restore salaries before rehiring employees this fall.

    “The workplace of the future, you’re going to see more diversity, which I think is a big focus of a lot of companies,” said White, adding, “And now, you’re going to see all these talent pools that are not typically in your recruiters’ network just open up. I think it’s going to be better for business overall.”

    He noted that mothers who want to return to the workforce, but are raising children, now have an opportunity to work from home and be a productive employee, as it has proven to be efficient for many companies and industries over the past four months.

    “You’re going to see people come back, have families and be able to work more easily,” White said.

    The savvy tech founder and new-age employer evolved in his belief about how A.I. will disrupt the workforce. He told Connolly on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight in December 2018 that Artificial Intelligence would not destroy jobs, rather, it would add an efficiency to compliment skilled laborers. As a result of the pandemic with more than 30 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits, White now tells WCBS 880 it will “replace some roles,” meaning A.I. will replace menial tasks like emails while creating new, advanced jobs.

    Listen to the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or on the media player above for creative sales methods that could be viable for your company and to hear about Don White’s personal battle with COVID-19 and how he and his family have recovered since they fell ill in March.

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  • Week In Sound: COVID-19 Rages Nationally Despite Vaccine Progress

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Florida is the new COVID-19 hotspot with the highest death rate and California surpasses New York for the most coronavirus cases as the Tri-State Area makes progress on reopening.

    Neil A. Carousso produced the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880 for the week ending July 24, 2020 that included a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, progress on a Pfizer vaccine, protests over racial justice face off against federal agents in Portland, Oregon, the Occupy City Hall encampment was shut down, New Jersey Federal Judge Esther Salas’ son was killed, and baseball returns. Hear it on the media player above.

    You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week In Sound as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880.

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