Alpine-Radio

Maintaining Good Relations

Mark Riboldi, 4th November 2015
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How political engagement works for Alpine Radio

Located in the high country of North-East Victoria, in the town of Mount Beauty on the Kiewa River, Alpine Radio actively promotes and pursues relationships with their state and federal representatives.

Station Secretary Nick Brown says their station believes it is “important to maintain good relations with members of parliament, whatever their political persuasions. The two-way communication process can keep both parliamentarians and the electorate informed about local community issues.”

For many years Alpine Radio had an excellent relationship with Bill Sykes, the former Nationals Member for Benalla in the Victorian State Parliament. Alpine Radio President Bill Sutton used to interview Sykes fortnightly, to discuss “the latest news from the Victorian Parliament, local issues and any upcoming information and available community grants,” Nick says. “Bill was terrific and took an interest in local community events and issues."

Unfortunately, Sykes retired at the 2014 Victorian State Election and the seat was redistributed.

Nick and the rest of the team are still working to establish regular appearances from the new state members who represent their listeners.

During the 2013 Federal Election, Alpine Radio invited all candidates to appear on-air. Everyone was allocated roughly the same amount of time and asked the same questions, “to be fair.”

Alpine Radio makes sure that listeners are very clear about where political content is coming from.

Any sponsorship is clearly identified and disclaimers are made before any politicians or political candidates appear on air.

The station has had excellent results engaging with their federal MP, the Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan, who has recently agreed to appear on-air monthly.

In 2015, McGowan “bought some sponsorship time from us to promote her Budget Impact Tour 2014, where she was seeking feedback from the electorate.”

“Cathy visits most parts of her electorate quite regularly, and we try to interview her every time she is in the area,” Nick says.

Political engagement is a long-term strategy and process for Alpine Radio. After over a decade of having a local MP who took the initiative, the station is now looking to put political engagement into their strategic plan.

Not giving up is crucial. “Because they’re so busy, you really have to be persistent in trying to get them to engage. You need to get in their calendars,” Nick says.

At the end of the day, the relationships formed with local MPs can affect the station’s future. “If we’ve got them onside we can go to them and say this is what the Budget’s doing and we need some help – it’s good to have them on your side.”

Interested in better engaging with your elected representatives?

Check out CBAA's political engagement toolkit here.

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