CMALive Conference Review

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#CMALive 2014, was my first Community Media conference to as a CMA council member. To be honest it didn’t really feel that different than any of the many CMA conferences I’ve attended as a member over the years. It was great to see those key familiar faces within the sector, share positive practices with new staff and volunteers of organisations, and finally get to meet some people who I “knew” but had never met in person till conference. 

It was a great positive feeling to the day, and one I love being a part of, that’s why I’ve stuck in the sector for over 12 years. This time, it was great to be able to talk to other members, and feel that as part of the CMA council, that I could try and take the opinions on board, and help shape the sector and the directions the CMA moves in.

CMALive is not only a great opportunity to attend a day completely focussed on community media and learning new skills, but also a chance to catch up with peers in areas across the UK and beyond. It’s great to hear that you’re not on your own in trying to stand up for the people that matter, the community, and that the struggles you have in the sector, can be overcome. The CMA enables conversations to happen and 94% of the attendees of #CMALive found the networking opportunities Good or Excellent, with some saying they wanted even more time. Hopefully, it’s a starting point for conversations that are now, flourishing after conference. 
Some key points came up in the feedback about the conference, that are worth giving some time to. Some mentioned support and guidance was needed for community radio stations 10years and older, and how community media organisation can prosper rather than “survive” financially. I think it’s really important for charities and non-for-profits to think more like businesses, and focus on getting multiple funding streams in, to support their work. I agree with the Ofcom 50% rule as it goes some way to forcing full time community radio stations to think outside the box like this, but it doesn’t come without it’s opposers. 

Personal favourites of the conference included the Citizen Journalism workshop by John Coster of Citizen’s Eye, and it was great to learn of their Documentary Media Month in October. When I was Station Manager at Preston FM, I loved working on international and topical projects, I find it enriches the local listeners experience, and usually very well received.  
There was also the opportunity to watch real community media in action as Take Over Radio’s Young presenters broadcast from the conference centre on the day; check out the latest touch screen fader radio desks (geek swoon) and learn more about what the CMA staff do day-to-day to support the sector.

It was a positive conference and we as council are already talking about #CMALive 2015, so keep your eyes and ears open.

The official write up of the conference can be found here http://www.commedia.org.uk/news/2014/06/cma-conference-2014-agm/

Interviewed by Paul Robinson from the Radio Academy for RadioTalk - http://www.radioacademy.org/news/blog/2014/06/radiotalk-community-media-association-conference/