Rebekah Lowe - 5THEFM

5 minutes with CBAA Award-winning volunteer Rebekah Lowe

Helen Henry, 14th May 2015

As part of National Volunteer Week (11 - 17 May), we caught up with 2014 CBAA Outstanding Volunteer Contribution Award winner Rebekah Lowe (5THEFM) to talk about her experience volunteering in the community radio sector.

Rebekah Lowe - 5THEFM - quote

How did you first get involved in community radio?

I first became involved with community radio when I volunteered my time at ALTA MIRA community radio station in Adelaide (now known as Life FM). I was an afternoon newsreader.

How long have you been a 5THE FM and what is your role there?

I have been involved in with 5THE FM for 12 years. My roles are many and varied as is the case with community radio in regional and rural Australia. All hands on deck and when not many hands, then your hands work rather quickly to keep things going. My current roles - Sales, Copywriter, Co-management, Grant writer, Presenter, Trainer, Production, Producer, Fundraiser, Board Member, Vice Chair, Finance Officer.

Why do you volunteer?

Good question - why do I? I love broadcasting, I love connecting with our community on a grassroots level. I love that we create radio, communication and connection in many ways. It is not just about the listener, it is about everyone involved, the volunteers, the listener, the sponsors, the community groups, the musicians and authors, the local pollies, the sporting clubs, high school students to the retirees and elderly - all connecting, sharing their stories, their events their success and their losses. Community radio brings us together and builds connection and relationship with everyone. To achieve this in regional Australia, it takes a lot of personal sacrifice.

What has been your proudest moment as a community radio volunteer?

Rebuilding our studios has been a great achievement. We started in 2006 with my original vision for a Production studio. We desperately needed this and a lot of hard work and planning and the planets aligning, we did it. Since then, we have renovated and rebuilt our offices, studios and library. Many highs because the lows can be very low and extremely testing. Winning the Most Outstanding Small Station in Australia in 2012 was pretty amazing. I was speechless, which is unusual for me. To be recognised on a national level, after years of hard and beyond challenging, work, it was encouraging a rewarding for our whole station and for those that who had been involved in the station. It was validity.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering in community radio?

I think that it is great to do! Depending on what you want to do. Be dedicated. Be committed. Be aware that you need to help out as with all facets. If you want to do a radio program, be prepared to learn and grow and be the best that you can be. So listeners want to keep tuning in. Be willing to help fundraise and help around the station where you can. If you want to be a part of a family, a team and great group of people and want to be a positive influence and be a voice for your community - be a part of a community radio station. If you choose to be a presenter, it is great. But there are many roles that radio station desperately need help with. If you are a retired handyman, volunteer your time once a week to do a few odd jobs or repairs around your station. If you have a knack for data entry, volunteer your time to work in the library, if you have a day to spare, if you have book-keeping skills or an accountant, see if you can give your time to do the stations finance or give advice and guidance. If you are a lawyer, offer your services, every station needs legal advice from time to time.  If you have a few hours to spare, offer to be your local station as a gardener or lawn mower person! There are so many roles that are needed to be filled as there is little money to pay people and many of these jobs needed to be done but the money isn't there to pay people to do it. Being a part of a radio station and making something happen that benefits one another is a great feeling.

How do you think community radio contributes to Australia’s open society, strong democracy and vibrant culture?

I think that community radio is imperative. The sector isn't perfect but I think that it is a work in progress. I know that many stations are running well and many are struggling. But without it, I think that there would be a huge gap, especially in regional rural areas, of local media and the loss of connection. We tell the stories of those that other media don't cover. We give a voice to everyone without an agenda. Community radio gives us a voice. 

Find out more about how volunteers contribute to community radio, and how you can get involved. 

Image courtesy of 5THEFM.

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