Cash boost to give Voice diversity

April 6, 2021 BY

On air: Voice FM board member Dr Sundram Sivmalai with Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle in the community radio station’s main studio. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

A GRANT from the State Government is set to increase the range of multicultural programming offered by community broadcaster Voice FM.

Announced on Monday, $50,000 from the Multicultural Media Stimulus Program will be used to train new on-air and production talent, as well as offset costs associated with expanding Voice’s range of radio shows.

Before the pandemic hit Voice FM had about six programs in languages other then English, yet when the station went into a fully automated service for 10 months, that number dropped significantly.

“We’re so excited that the government has seen Voice as an important part of the community and importantly the work we’ve done in the past in relation to all our multicultural programming,” said Voice FM board chair Ron Egeberg.

“We want to go beyond that. There are new opportunities, particularly with the new people that have come to Australia and want to be able to share their news from home and also share knowledge about their backgrounds.”

Voice FM board member Dr Sundram Sivmalai said community broadcasters had an important role to play in keeping multicultural groups connected and informed, both within the region and linked back to their diasporas.

“The voice of the multicultural community is very seldom heard and there has to be some way of paving the path to be heard,” he said. “This will provide an opportunity for a continuous flow of information and sharing.

“The government is coming to understand that rural, regional and remote Australia is equally as important as metro.”

Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle, who announced the money at the station’s offices, agreed and noted that was a big part of the Multicultural Media Stimulus Program.

“We found out during COVID that it was really important to have direct, in language messaging, and as a consequence the government felt that it was imperative to fund multicultural radio,” she said.

Like many community organisations, Voice was hit hard by the pandemic.

A lack of money coming in the door has been a challenge for the broadcaster, yet Mr Egeberg said the $50,000 from the State Government would be a big help going forward.

“It gives us a new start to actually now implement the plans we had in February last year to do the things we needed to do,” he said. “It will balance out what we would have had to have expend.”

The plan to increase multicultural shows at Voice comes on top of other programming changes at the station that also includes a partnership with sports radio broadcaster SEN.

Voice now carries SEN programming on Sundays, including a live stream of an AFL game in the afternoon.

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