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Community access radio – the best kept secret

Community access radio is lifting the lid on the incredible diversity of programmes it offers to all New Zealanders.

Online polling just completed by Colmar Brunton shows access radio stations have content like no other media outlet in the country. Participants in the research project talked about access radio bringing communities together in an inclusive and empowering environment.

The research was completed just in time for The Big Listen – a month long focus on the diverse range of programmes available on access radio and online.

The 12 community access radio stations from Invercargill to Auckland, supported by NZ On Air, currently provide about 480 individual programmes in around 40 different languages.

“The strength of access radio is that ideas have no limits. Without the same constraints as commercial broadcasting, access radio programme makers can make content that meets community needs and serve small but important niches. It is an especially powerful way of connecting ethnic communities and preserving languages,” says NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

“There is a surprising and delightful array of programmes available on access radio. And it’s all online too. So in addition to what’s on your own local station, you can also access podcasts on a range of topics from other stations,” said Ms Wrightson.

Topics on access radio range from refugee and migrant stories, ethnic language programmes, mental health support, niche music, life with disabilities, current affairs, gender issues and programmes for the young and old.

Darren Ludlow, Chair of the Association of Community Access Broadcasters says, “Access Radio offers a genuine opportunity for our communities to connect, and for some spectacular sections of our communities to showcase who they are and what they do – much of which could pass by the rest of us unnoticed. Access Radio gives a media voice to these groups.”

Access radio stations will be holding events throughout August and invite anyone with an idea for a new programme to talk with them about how to make it. Meanwhile listeners are encouraged to go looking through the treasure trove that is community access radio and see what they can find.

All stations have websites with podcasts of their programmes available. In addition NZ On Air funds Access Internet Radio (www.accessradio.org) which brings together podcasts from a number of access stations around the country in one place.

The Big Listen was launched this morning at Plains FM in Christchurch by the Broadcasting Minister, Hon. Amy Adams.


Updated on 4th August 2016