VOX FM is a general access community broadcaster, accommodating a wide variety of English language programs, as well as twenty-seven programs produced by people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. The Promise of Performance for which VOX FM’s broadcast license was granted, states that programming at VOX FM “one third of the programming would be totally ethnic or have a large multicultural component. The remainder of the time would be divided between community programming and music programming”. VOX FM’s strategic plan for the next five years, therefore, is to sustain this commitment and work towards fulfilling its potential for the Station’s general engagement with the community of the Illawarra region of New South Wales.
VOX FM has one of the largest amounts of airtime devoted to CALD programming of any community station outside the capital cities in Australia. The faces of our CALD and English language presenters are visible on our webpage www.voxfm.org.au.
VOX FM is entirely run by volunteers, including all the announcers. There is often a close relationship between the Station and its listenership. In the case of the CALD programs, they rely heavily upon the information and entertainment that these provide each week, with numerous people calling in, sometimes from overseas.
VOX FM is run on a daily basis by a team of volunteers who report to the Board of Directors. The Board consists of nine (9) Directors with four and five voted in for two-year periods at alternate Annual General Meetings held in October. The newly elected Board then votes for the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Assistant Secretary Assistant Treasurer at its first meeting following an Annual General Meeting.
The Board appoints subcommittees to advise and help with specific areas of management, such as programming, fundraising and music library team.
VOX FM pays for the services of a bookkeeper who assists with book keeping matters once a week.
Operations and Production
The premises are rented from the local council and we upgrade their appearance when required. There are three (3) studios – two (2) from which we broadcast, Studio A & B. Studio C is primarily reserved for production work i.e., voiceovers, training, etc. This will provide smooth changeovers between programs and allows for a fully equipped studio for training purposes. There is also a large common room for presenters to use, which also houses the music library. We have an office for volunteers, fully equipped kitchen and disability toilet. Further sound proofing of studios is also on our agenda.
We have erected a lock up shed at the rear of the premises and submit a request to “apron” the curb to allow smooth access to the parking area.
Factors Affecting Station for the 2022 – 2027 Period
It is important the services that VOX FM provides remains relevant in an age when various communication technologies provide competition to them.
In this environment VOX FM is committed to being a community resource, and so further integration with other community groups and providing cultural support informs our plans for the coming five-year period.
Station Strengths: VOX FM benefits from a diverse range of presenters, which means that it may create partnerships with a variety of groups in the community. Potential sponsors may also reach audiences which are not available to commercial broadcasters or not covered by individual narrowcast or internet stations.
Live presenters at VOX FM also provides a personable sense to the Station. People may interact with presenters directly. Be it music or subjects of community interest, the presenters at VOX FM often share their considerable passion and knowledge with the community. This helps provide an advantage over the many streaming services that are available.
The Station has been able to build up its cash resources which had been drastically depleted by its move from Wollongong to Unanderra during late 2019 and early 2020. Recently, it has improved signal reach, which involved two stages. The first, installing a direct “line of sight” link between the Unanderra studios and Brokers Nose transmitter, which has already been completed. The second, relocation VOX FM’s transmitter to a position higher on the Brokers Nose tower. It is expected that this will improve signal reach to Dapto and Albion Park.
Also, VOX FM is a registered charity, with tax deductible gift recipient status, which benefits both the Station and donors alike.
VOX FM has been negatively impacted by the restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This has been particularly so with respect to the Station’s active engagement with the community and fundraising activities, as well as its ability to secure sponsorship.
With the easing of restrictions, VOX FM is beginning to engage with the community as it had before. The past year has also seen a rise of activity by the Station through its website and social media pages. It is hoped that this will help better promote VOX FM’s in person activities in the community and thus provide better responses to them.
The demographics of the Illawarra are subject to change, with aging immigrant populations the descendants of immigrants being generally less able to speak the “mother tongue”. This is a salient issue given the programming at VOX FM.
Response: There are always new migrant communities arriving in the Illawarra. New communities include African, Iraqi and Syrian refugees as well as an emerging Persian professional community.
VOX FM is a member of both the Illawarra Multicultural Services and the Multicultural Communities Council of the Illawarra, through these organizations we are able to gauge shifts in populations of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including new immigrant groups.
Training at VOX FM has always been important, with the Programming Committee creating a comprehensive training curriculum which is used by all trainers at the Station. There is always a need for more trainers therefore there will be a recruitment drive. This will mean the increased use of training materials.
Trainees and existing presenters have adjusted to changes in technology, such as the Zara studio playout.
Training through organizations such as the Community Media Training Organisation are being considered as a means of augmenting that provided ‘in-house’ by the Station over the next five years.
VOX FM is heavily reliant on grant moneys, which is always subject to fluctuations and government policy.
VOX FM primarily receives funding from the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF). VOX FM is continually looking for other funding opportunities to supplement its resources and to enhance its working environment.
Expanding the income streams from sponsorship has been a long-term priority of VOX FM and continues to be a priority.
Strategies for the 2022 to 2027 Period
It has been an ongoing aim of VOX FM to increase the Station’s profile within the Illawarra, including reaching out to the various CALD communities of the region and entrenching itself within them. VOX FM will also be continuing to reach out to the general community via stalls at local markets, sausage sizzles at Bunnings and at events hosted by other community organisations. The success of these strategies will be measured in increased community involvement with the Station and assistance in its projects, as well as increases in audience numbers, membership, sponsorship and fundraising income. Whilst many of its plans in these areas have been disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions, it is hoped that with their easing, the Station can resume its in person activities. VOXFM has become more active with its website and social media pages to promote its activities and be a means of daily interaction with members of the community. This website will also continue to provide live streaming. allow payments to be made to VOXFM, alongside other electronic and cash options available at the Station, thus encouraging income flow.
VOX FM has installed talkback for its two on-air studios. This has been a longstanding objective of the Station to help provide a more immediate sense of participation by members of the community with the Station. A small number of presenters have been trained in the usage of the talkback system shall begin soon, more training is on offer on request.
VOX FM has been promoting its programs generally through special, open-day events such as World Radio Day, and in weekly manner via its website. CALD programs have been included in this promotion.
CALD programs are also promoting themselves via video streaming of their programs. It is hoped, through funding VOX FM will be able to increase the ability to provide this for all of its twenty-seven ethnic programs.
We recently formed a music library team, their approach to the mammoth task of sorting out hundreds of CD’s is very positive. They are putting the CD’s in “music genre” form, colour coded, also alphabetical in each section. It is a “traditional” correct way of setting up a music library, very time consuming with patience a major factor, this will be ongoing for years.
VOX FM is unique in the service it provides to the Illawarra region of New South Wales. The next three years offer substantial challenges to its service which has proven a vital source of information and entertainment for the local CALD communities. VOX FM looks forward to realising the potential for the Illawarra, inherent in its Promise of Performance.
Approved by the Board of Directors
Date of Approval: Tuesday 16th March 2021
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