Get to know us: Stafford Sanders

Alex Crerar, 2nd November 2021

RPH Project Support Officer, Stafford Sanders

Stafford has joined the CBAA as RPH Project Support Officer, providing assistance to our RPH members that serve communities with a print disability, as part of our management agreement with RPH Australia. Stafford has come back to the CBAA after serving as our first satellite network manager (1993-95). He started at 4ZZZ and produced current affairs at 2SER – a founding EP of Undercurrents, forerunner to The Wire. He’s also worked for ABC, SBS and commercial radio.

He’s been a published writer, prizewinning journalist, musician, satirist and public advocacy partnership-builder – working on successful campaigns in tobacco control, affordable housing, drug law reform and people seeking asylum. He’ll be working to help all stations involved in broadcasting RPH content, and to build cooperation and partnership in the sector.

What drew you to community radio?   

I was first drawn to community radio in 1979, after my pop group crashed and burned. No longer seeing that as a feasible way of making a living, I’d done a bit of freelance journalism including a bit of radio, saw an ad for a newsroom job at 4ZZZ, and off I went. I came back to the sector twice more – again drawn by interesting jobs. I love the community radio sector – it’s the most distinctive thing about Australian media, and an indispensable player in participatory democracy and cultural diversity!

What is something unexpected about our sector you’ve learnt throughout your experience in community radio?

Its capacity to pull together despite huge diversity – of geography, cultures, politics, styles and tastes. Its capacity to find common ground and work hard for it has inspired my partnership-building activities in several campaigns outside the sector – such as tobacco control, affordable housing and drug law reform.

You are offered a radio show - you can have any timeslot, play whatever music you like, discuss whatever you feel is of interest - what is happening today on the Stafford Sanders Variety Hour Radio Show?

It wouldn’t be midnight or early brekky – I’ve done too much of those shifts and these days value my sleep! It would probably be themed around collaborations – community projects, issue-based campaigns - public health, environmental, justice – and unlikely musical or other performance collaborations. Big ventures that people say are impossible or harebrained but which are made possible by people pooling their various strengths and putting differences to one side. Elaborate musicals, multimedia projects, you name it. This radio show itself would need tons of determined partnership effort, just to get on air!

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In 2004 the first, national, statistically robust, quantitative assessment of the Australian community broadcasting sector’s audience reach was undertaken. Conducted by McNair Ingenuity, this research provided a major breakthrough in the wider shift to a more audience-centred approach to managing the sector. The findings, significance and implications of this research are considered here. Following recent developments in critical cultural policy studies, this paper locates this renewed concern for community broadcasting audiences within a ‘larger cycle of decision-making’ (O’Regan, Balnaves and Sternberg 2002: 2). The particular influence of developments such as the emerging spectrum market and the imminent transition to digital transmission systems is discussed. These developments are important to understanding why community broadcasting resistance to market-based conceptions of audience is being overcome, and how audience-centredness might be used to facilitate the continuing development of this ‘third’ sector of Australian broadcasting.


In 1993 Paul Keating won the ‘unwinnable election', Sydney won the bid to host the 2000 Olympic games, and community radio won the space race. 


Major players in the community radio and TV sector have today called for unity in the release of a joint statement of support for reforms to the Community Broadcasting Foundation’s (CBF) structure and governance arrangements.