Jon Bisset visiting 8CCC

On the road

Jon Bisset, 29th June 2016

Over the last few months, I've had the pleasure and privilege of visiting nearly 50 stations around the country. 

Visiting with station managers and committees and getting in to their studios reminded me over and over again what we're all here for. Community radio plays such an important role. 

For those involved in stations themselves, there is a unique opportunity for personal expression and community involvement through media making, the chance to learn new skills, and to make new friends and ties with people that you mightn't have otherwise. 

Stations do some remarkable things. Given my love of (addiction to?) coffee, it was fascinating to hear how 8CCC is engaging with their local community each Saturday through partnering with a local bakery and operating a cafe from their shop front studio thereby generating revenue for their station. 

I also visited CAAMA last week and I’m always excited to see the important role played by remote Indigenous media in maintaining language and culture and providing tools for self-representation and community development.

For listeners, locally created programs sharing local stories and specialist content are key. So many voices are heard on air that simply wouldn't be otherwise, carving out a unique and valuable place for community radio alongside commercial broadcasters and the ABC/SBS. In these times of media reform, economic uncertainly and shifts in media consumption, our capacity for diverse and independent programming shines ever brighter.

It was these sentiments that I shared with our Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield when meeting with him last week. We met to talk about digital community radio funding. Community radio is a key pillar in Australian broadcasting, and a world renowned example of grassroots media. We must continue to be heard on a free-to-air basis, and mustn't be left behind as digital radio listening grows. After gathering some 53,000 petition signatures and growing our database to over 100,000 supporters, meeting more than 15 MP’s and candidates and being blown away by the huge amount support given online and on-air on our National Day Of Action on 3 June, we remain hopeful that the Coalition Government will match the promise of the Labor Party, the Greens and others to restore digital community radio funding if elected on 2 July. 

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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.


Then we came up with this bright idea: why not start up our own radio station . . . Fill the gap? Which we did. And it worked. That was 17 years ago.


Today is International Volunteers Day – a welcome opportunity to celebrate the contribution of the thousands of people who give their time to community radio across Australia.