Melanie is one of our volunteer assessors who has been involved in all areas of community broadcasting, first in her hometown Hobart and then in Melbourne, since 2003. This is her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in South Australia but lived most of my life in Tasmania before moving to Melbourne in 2015.
I currently work as a communications and event manager in the disability sport sector. I also work casually at a taxidermy studio, where I assist with classes ranging from the taxidermy of rats to the corrosion casting of sheep hearts. It makes for an interesting conversation starter!
It’s really important to me that I do meaningful work. Over the years I have worked in community broadcasting, and in the for-purpose, government and for-profit sectors. What I have learnt from this is that the for-purpose sector is most aligned with my personal philosophies.
Outside of my working life I’m into exhibitions and films, creative projects, skeletal articulation, road trips, lost wax carving, boxing, pretending I’m going to ride my bike then not, poking about in second hand shops, going to gigs and festivals, repeatedly asking my cat what she’s doing, dreaming about daylight savings and summer and rooftop bars, putting plants in teacups, getting lost down alleyways, taking photos of street art, trying to keep my herbs alive and pro wrestling. I even trained at a pro wrestling academy once. True story.
I like anything new and creative, so I try all sorts of stuff and do lots of courses and workshops. I also have a real knack for putting myself in situations far outside my comfort zone. Like doing a 400km charity ride through Sri Lanka.
How did you become involved in community radio?
In my final year of university, I had some tough choices to make. I always thought I would work in television, but I lost interest in that idea following a work placement at a local TV station and I wasn’t really interested in print media at that time.
So, when I heard that a community radio station was starting up in Hobart, I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a go. And I’ve never looked back! I fell passionately in love with community radio and everything it represented.
I have been involved in the community broadcasting sector since 2003 as a volunteer, paid staff member, broadcaster, committee member and consultant. My weekly radio program about Tasmanian music, Tasmusica, was the longest running program at Edge Radio – it ran for 12 years and also contributed to the station’s CBAA award for Contribution to Local Music in 2003.
I have also been Program Manager and Station Manager of Edge Radio, a general member of the CBF Online and general grants advisory committees, and on the CBAA Board and Edge Radio Committee of Management.
My number one passion is, and always will be, community radio.
What do you love about community broadcasting?
I love that it gives a voice to under-represented and minority groups in our community and is also a platform for independent artists. It is full of so many diverse people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with others. It also gives people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn new skills, gain confidence and engage with their community.
What is one of your community broadcasting highlights?
During my time at Edge Radio, the station experienced a downturn in sponsorship, leading to an increased need to source alternative income streams.
With an impending state election, we boldly (and ambitiously) set ourselves the task of campaigning for election commitments from both major parties.
We had some good people on our side and mounted a public campaign that called for the long-term sustainability of Hobart’s beloved youth station. A week before the election, the Liberals released their arts policy. It promised, if elected, an injection of $100,000 over two years to the station.
However, it looked like the incumbent Labor government would return to power, so we were hoping for a similar commitment from them. I’ll never forget the phone call I received just days before the election, promising to provide core funding of $200,000 over four years to ensure the station’s viability. That was one happy day!
And it’s always reassuring to know that others support and believe in the power of community radio.
Why did you sign up to be a CBF assessor?
When I moved to Melbourne, I found it hard to get involved in community radio, as most volunteer roles require a commitment during business hours, which is hard when you work full time.
I love being a volunteer grant assessor for the CBF as it gives me a meaningful way to stay engaged with the sector and continue making a positive contribution to the sector I so love.
I genuinely enjoy reading about all the projects, initiatives and programming that broadcasters across Australia are doing. And I am continually inspired by the dedication and passion shown by stations, broadcasters, and sector bodies, who strive to enhance their communities.
Interested in becoming an assessor?
Do you want to give back to community media or grow your knowledge of the grants process? Why not become a volunteer grant assessor.