Every Tuesday night, Bendigo community radio station Phoenix FM broadcasts a show that highlights Indigenous issues, music, views and voices.
Not for the first time, that program - Koori Shout-Out - has been named a finalist for Excellence in Indigenous Broadcasting in the nationwide Community Broadcasting Association of Australia's Community Radio Awards, to be announced next month.
Koori Shout-Out is one of the station's longest-running programs, having first gone to air under the name of Koori Grapevine in 2008, the year the community station began.
Phoenix FM is also the only station in Bendigo with a dedicated Indigenous program.
"We are a community radio station and we like to represent our community, and the Indigenous community is a very important part of that community," Anne Conway, one of the station's founders and Koori Shout-Out host, said.
Pauline Ugle and Anna Williams also present the program, which to date has aired more than 520 times
Bill Whitbread and Sue Tuitupou also help bring the show to the air.
The hosts bring on guests to discuss events and issues relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and bring an Indigenous perspective to topics.
For Pauline, working at the station also presents an opportunity to influence the way Indigenous Australians are represented in media.
"It's really easy to cast stereotypes... If we're not at the table, we can't control the content," she said.
When she sits behind the presenter's desk, Pauline likes to focus her shows on national issues and what has been achieved.
She said she tried to bring light to issues and offer an Indigenous point of view where there was often only one dominant perspective given air.
"This is a way to talk about things that matter to our people," Pauline said, adding it was an important thing for the Aboriginal community.
She said bringing guests onto the show and interviewing them was a way of giving them exposure.
Local radio presented an opportunity, she said, referring to commentator and The Marngrook Footy Show host Leila Gurruwiwi, whose media career started in Indigenous-owned radio and launched her into national television.
"Good stuff happens here," Pauline said.
Broadcasting on Dja Dja Wurrung country, Pauline said, meant she also liked to highlight what was happening locally.
Anne added that they aimed to make the show positive and look at what had been achieved - or could be achieved - in relation to current issues and events.
Anne, herself a musician, said the program also featured all-Indigenous music from artists from across Australia.
By getting played on radio, these artists - many of whom who might not get exposure on commercial radio - can earn some money for their music through royalties.
"It's content like that you won't find anywhere else," Phoenix FM president Samual Harrison said.
The station also receives funding from the Community Broadcasting Foundation for its Indigenous and ethnic programming, which helps pay for anything from CDs to travel costs for presenters.
"It removes barriers to participation," Anne said.
Reflecting the broad church of Bendigo
Koori Shout-Out is just one example of Phoenix FM's work to be a genuine community radio station with programming that reflects the diversity of voices and viewpoints among people living in the Bendigo area.
Anne said the not-for-profit station station tried to be as inclusive as it could be, welcoming people from various walks of life.
"Our community isn't one stream of people," Samual added.
The station - which broadcasts around the clock - features everything from sports shows to a Scottish program to a show for people in the LGBTQI community.
Music of various styles is represented, as are the voices of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Even school students have the opportunity to get some real-life experience in broadcasting and the station provides immediate access to the City of Greater Bendigo's council meetings with its live broadcast.
Samual said it also gave community groups a platform they might not find elsewhere.
Bill, another foundation member of Phoenix FM said the reason the station was established was because there was no one else facilitating such a service in the community.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority granted a temporary, two-week licence in January 2008 and the station began broadcasting content that included an insight into the Karen community, news from China, a women's program and film society news.
"Right from the start we demonstrated we were for the community," Anne said.
The station shared a frequency with Fresh FM for some time, before acquiring its full-time licence and own frequency - 106.7 MHz FM - in 2010.
It now also offers a streaming service online - and was one of the first stations in Australia to do so, Samual said.
He said community radio still had a "massive" following in regional Australia, precisely because of its community focus.
Entering the Phoenix FM studios there are a swag of awards and certificates on the walls and in cabinets the station has collected over the past 12 years, including the two trophies Koori Shout-Out claimed at the CBAA Community Radio Awards for its Indigenous broadcasting in previous years.
"Years ago [the station] was just a little fledgling thing of no importance, but it's become a force to be reckoned with," Anne said.
Koori Shout-Out is broadcast every Tuesday night from 6pm to 8pm.
Phoenix FM will find out if its program has picked up another CBAA Community Radio Award on Saturday, October 26, when Koori Shout-Out goes up against five other finalists from across the country.
For more information on the radio station's other offerings, visit phoenixfm.org.au.
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