The Community Media Forum Europe hosted a series of presentations at Radiodays Europe highlighting some of the issues facing community radio stations at the moment.
Orange 94 in Vienna celebrated its 20thanniversary this year. Together, Ilona Toller and Susanne Jäger explained how the station had worked to empower intergenerational collaboration, hosting content produced by volunteers – young and old.
Laura Bock, President at Fréquence Banane in Switzerland, is working to bring more young people into broadcasting. Making radio by students and for students at both Unil/EPFL in Lausanne, as well as l’UNIGE, in Genève. This project remains mostly online, but is working on a terrestrial broadcast element.
Lina Chawaf works in Syria, helping community stations broadcast in the area. She reflected on the difficulty of working in such an extreme and violent context. Lina said “We cannot do funny stories, because people are dying every day. We work under very tough circumstances, so it’s not easy for us to make community radio, but we believe we can make a change. This is why community radio is very important in Syria”.
It was clear among the many participants that funding is the main challenge community radio stations face right now. Even when there’s an increase in funding, it tends to be seasonal. This means that stations will always struggle, eventually.
Keeping volunteers engaged is a difficult thing to do. Alice Reinhard and Melanie Reber, from Radio FACH3, summarised the feeling in the room, saying: “What’s really important is that people feel like they can learn and profit from being involved. When you give the volunteers responsibility, they feel more engaged”.