Posted by: jkirkby8712 | June 10, 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011 – consulting with the community!

An interesting evening, tonight –  a regular members’ meeting of the radio station, but tonight, combined with a ‘Community Consultation’ session. Under the guidelines of the licensing arrangements for the radio station’s continued operation,  we are now required as part of that agreement, to hold a number of community consultation meetings throughout the year, basically to assess whether the station is providing the kind of programming that our community expects to see, or hear! I was optimistic that we would see a good turn up of representatives from the broad local community, others of us were not so hopeful!

As it turned out, the ‘pessimists’ were on the right track – four separate people from the community [all of whom were actual sponsors] turned up to the meeting to put their views, together with a good crowd of actual station members. It was of course noted that the usual small group of members who simply do their two hours a week on air and then are seldom heard of or seen for the rest of the week or month [unless they have a complaint to voice]  were not present, those who submitted apologies excepted. Mind you, this organisation is no different to any other community organisation – there will always be the element who do a lot of the work, those who willingly help when asked, and a third group who do little else beyond paying their fees – I guess the latter fact, at least makes their membership a certain degree of ‘value’ to the organisation in question.

Anyway, the absentees missed a very useful night, despite the poor participation by those out in our listening community, and as a community radio station, we had gone part of the way to meeting our annual obligation, having widely advertised the event. As noted in a piece of information distributed prior to the meeting, and read out tonight again, with regard to listener feedback to this point in time  –  ‘3NRG has received very little feedback from the community relative to programming with the exception of some resistance to the volume of the Country Music genre and some resistance to foreign language programming. Since 3NRG attempts to represent the widest community interest, this feedback has not been seen by 3NRG as sufficiently widespread or sustained to warrant change to the program mix’.  That advice went further to say that   ‘In the past 3NRG has developed its programming simply around that material which presenters joining the station wished to present. Apart from holding explicit lyrics to after 10pm no censorship or controls have been applied by 3NRG in any timeslot in the past.  As a general rule a strong balance of Australian content is preferred and where available local material is sourced. Music in a number of genres dominates the programming currently although 3NRG encourages, talk back, current affair or magazine style programs’.

 The aim of the consultation sessions was to try and identify whether a significant portion of the community perceive any elements of weakness in the programming mix currently offered, and the opportunity to have a say on that was given to a number of sources, including the listeners, members and sponsors, specialist community groups, and the general community at large. Obviously, on the basis of tonight’s turn out [of non-members at least] it was difficult to really point to any conclusions, no point in trying to assert the community at large is happy with all we are doing, or alternatively, nobody really cares anyway on the basis of four interested persons – with a vested interest as sponsors – coming to the discussions. However, the process will be repeated, and hopefully, over a period of time, a much more substantial picture of the ‘community’ view will become evident. As I said earlier, it was still a useful exercise, with many of the members present able to raise issues, etc, in a totally non-confrontational environment.

The outcome of this and future meetings is that  3NRG will be happy to review its programming where a significant portion of the community have identified, and communicated a weakness in the current programming.  However, we must, in future consultation with the community at large, be in a position to offer potential solutions by providing alternative content or strong suggestions for it. Once a solution has been identified as viable 3NRG will commit to implementation of the programming change within a specified time frame. Obviously, if the community is ‘insisting’ on the kinds of programming which the station doesn’t have the resources to carry out, we will be looking to that community to assist with the provision of those resources, including ‘more volunteers’ as presenters and/or members with the station!   Hopefully for future meetings, the weather will be a little kinder – tonight in Sunbury was the kind of wintry evening, when unless you were desperate to be a part of something, the temptation to stay out of the weather was a big motivating factor in people staying away tonight!  That point, one must concede!!

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