Guest Blog - 10 Years in Community Radio & Inspiring Women

This was a blog Liz wrote for SoundWomen...
The original blog post can be found at http://www.soundwomen.co.uk/10-years-of-community-radio-and-the-women-wh...

At most broadcast-based conferences women are in a minority, and there’s often just the singular token female speaker; but the Community Media Association (CMA) are setting the bar much higher. On Saturday June 16th the CMA held their annual conference in Bath with an itinerary of inspiring presentations – and women made up 50% of the speakers.

The conference was held to celebrate 10 years of community radio and the advent of local television. The highlight of the day for most people was “In conversation with…” Zane Ibrahim, formerly of Bush Radio, South Africa.

Zane was one of the “fathers of community radio” and we remembered how powerful his words really were. Many years ago Zane summed it up by saying “community radio is 90% about community and 10% about radio” and this year he provided us with another epic quote to live by, “all you need is a microphone and a great heart.”

Community radio is about empowering people, giving them the skills to make their own media and offers opportunities mainstream media never would. Once you see the effect of community media on the people involved, you’re hooked for life! I love it, my passion for community media will never die, it’s people like Zane who help you re-focus your efforts to be smarter, supportive and to remember to go out and find the stories that matter to the community.

Zane explained he was very passionate about women being involved in community radio as they were the ears of the community and women best understood what radio can accomplish. Perfectly fitting then, to see 47% of the delegates female at CMA Live this year.

Community media tries to be inclusive of everyone regardless of gender or any other demographic, be that for volunteers or the staff that run the radio stations. There are many key players in the community media sector who are female and have helped shaped the sector enormously.

Before I started my own business DigiEnable, I worked as a Station Manager/Technician at community radio station, Preston FM. It was women like Mary Dowson from Bradford Community Broadcasting (BCB) Cathy Aitchison from the Women’s Radio Group and even the Director of the Community Media Association (CMA), Jaqui Devereux that were women I’d aspired to be like.

Another positive promotion for women in community radio at the conference saw Lesley Pullar, a previous CMA Council member, awarded CMA’s first lifetime achievement award. Positive role models like these, make being a woman in media a lot easier. If they can do it, maybe I can too?

Issues discussed at the event included the largest problem in the sector at the moment – funding, along with Local TV, Arts and Community Media and looking to the future of community radio. I was invited to talk about #solomo – Social, Local, Mobile and how the future of community media will include multi-platform content. Could the future of community radio mean you can listen, learn and interact with your nearest community radio station via a geolocation app on your smartphone?

This year’s CMA conference was very poignant for me, having recently left Preston FM. My heart still lies in community media and I want the whole world to know they can get involved if they want to. It was great to see so many CMA members feeling the same and standing side by side in solidarity.

“Can you say I am equal to the least of you? If you think you’re better you have a problem“ Zane Ibrahim