President of the Community Broadcasting Foundation, Ian Hamm has welcomed participants to this year’s CBAA virtual conference, reflecting on a “year like no other”
In a year that has not only been a challenge for the broadcasting community, but Australia as a whole, with bushfires, a drought and now a pandemic and the possibility of floods at the end of the year, he says that “this year has shown the real value of community broadcasting”
He says that during the bushfires in Victoria and NSW “Community broadcasting was what people tuned into, to find out what was happening in their communities.”
During the lockdown in Melbourne “…it is community broadcasting that is being turned to pass public health messages to those people for whom English is not a first language. In fact the official language from the country they came from may not be their first language, but it may in fact be a regional dialect…that may be broadcast on community radio”
These are the great strengths of our radio community…in times of great distress. WE are an integral part, and important part of the special fabric that binds our communities together. 2020 has shown us to be a community a network radio stations that responds well to distress.”
Ian says that while stations have performed well, it has also exposed vulnerabilities, as like every other sector, community radio had been impacted by the economy, had to wear masks and change the way they have done business, including broadcasting from home.
Looking forward to 2021 and beyond he says, “It is my great belief that our sector over the next decade and over the next generation will evolve and change to be a robust part of not only the community media sector and the media sector as a whole, but its importance to the fabric of the Australian society and the Australian economy will be recognised and have to be acknowledged.
“It is one thing that has not been calculated or estimated by many people is not only what we give to the community socially, but what we give economically. How many businesses rely on (community radio) to tell their message about their products, about their goods and services.
“We are an important part of the economy as much as we are of society.”