8CCC cafe

On the money: 8CCC opens cafe to connect with community

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 20th January 2017
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Small stations, especially those in regional, rural and remote areas, know intimately the challenges of running a community station — both financially and in terms of engaging their audience. However when new trials arise, these stations also exercise great flexibility and find highly inventive ways in which to move forward.

About three years ago, one station found itself at such a crossroads. The board of 8CCC was wondering how they could best reinvigorate the Alice Springs community’s engagement with their station. Edan Baxter, Acting Station Manager, explains: “We had just finished a lot of organisational changes, renovations and systems upgrades and we wanted...to let the community know about our new vibrant space and [to have them] feel a part of it.”

8CCC

Then an idea came—what if they were to open a cafe right on the station’s front door?

“With the support of 8CCC presenters DJ Kamcorder (Cam Buckley) and Rocklicious (Jeff Kessel), we started selling coffee every Saturday morning outside the studio as a trial. It was great fun and visitors were very supportive. In those days, we just had an old coffee machine and a few milk crates.”

“Then we hired an amazing barista, Aime Lou, and the 8CCC Saturday Cafe started [to take] off. It quickly grew in popularity and we realised it was a long-term, viable proposition.” 

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve steadily kept improving things and it has gone from strength to strength! In 2015, we teamed up with a local ‘pop-up’ bakery that sells fresh bread and pastries and we’ve now got hundreds of people coming down to the 8CCC Bakery Cafe every week.”

For the station, the benefits of the cafe have extended past the purely financial.

“We still don’t make a lot of money but any extra cash helps a regional station like ours. What has been fantastic however is the profile, buzz and enthusiasm it has generated for community radio and the enjoyment people get from listening to great music and programming in a relaxed atmosphere. We’ve also seen our membership double since the cafe opened and sales of t-shirts and merchandise have increased too.”

After all 8CCC had learnt from their bakery cafe, we were curious about what advice they would offer other non-metro stations who were trying to raise money in innovative ways.

“We all hear stories about ‘the good ol’ days of radio’ when everyone tuned in to their favourite station and the [studio] was overloaded with callers. These days it is definitely a little harder for us all because we are navigating the digital media age and entirely new patterns of media consumption.”

“But one thing hasn’t changed and that is that community radio is a great place to hang out, meet great people, learn new skills and enjoy great music—we just have to keep doing little things to remind people of this and welcome them into our world.”

“Running a bakery or cafe is probably not going to work for all stations but thinking innovatively about fundraising, events and community relationships in new ways has ensured 8CCC is growing its momentum and engagement.”

If you would like further information on this project, please contact the CBAA who can connect you with representatives of 8CCC. 8CCC broadcasts to both the Alice Springs and Tennant Creek communities. 

This article was originally published in the November 2016 edition of CBX Magazine.

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