Community media needs support -- help Melbourne's 3CR radio station

Issue 

Congratulations on the launch of Green Left TV in Sydney on July 7. With the filming of the second Green Left Report in front of a live audience, it was a night to remember.

Let’s hope that this is the start of something big. Community media needs our support to make it grow.

Another people-powered enterprise that started small is 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne. When I think of 3CR, I think of arriving in Melbourne, standing amid the high-rises, in what feels like the bowels of capitalism, listening to the likes of refugee rights activist and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton talk about refugees, her real humanity in contrast to the surroundings.

The station was started in 1976 by a group of activists who saw how the mainstream media sidelined or misrepresented working class, Indigenous, environmental, feminist, community group and trade union issues. They were determined to create a radio station that would put these issues front and centre.

After 36 years, you might think the fire was starting to burn low. Not so ― 3CR now has more than 120 shows, mainly political, and 24 community language programs. Recently, I travelled to Melbourne and the coach-driver turned out to be the mainstay of the Fijian show on 3CR.

The station runs broadcasting training courses over eight weeks, giving people with no broadcasting experience the needed skills, especially foreign language speakers. One recent example is the Chin speakers (originally from Burma) who now have their own show.

I am often in the 3CR tearoom on Mondays for Beyond Zero Radio, the only radio show in Australia dedicated to solutions to climate change. So I hear the show before it, “Doin Time”, about prisoners, and afterwards, ”Save Albert Park”, about protecting public space.

After that comes “Voice of West Papua” ― news and solidarity with the West Papuan struggle where there is none in the mainstream. For a Green Left Weekly reader, this is heaven. So many great shows in the middle of the AM dial, on 855AM. You can also livestream it from anywhere, and many do.

Like Green Left TV it cannot run on thin air. As well as about 400 volunteers, it has a small number of paid staff. They keep the slightly rambling but welcoming 3CR premises at 21 Smith St, Fitzroy, up to scratch.

Each year 3CR run a Radiothon and each show has a target to reach. So far this year, about 80% of the target of $210 000 this year has been reached. The station is seeking that last $42,000.

By the standards of the media magnates, that sum is nothing, probably James Murdoch’s lunch money. But for us, it is helping one of our most valuable free speech institutions survive. No donation is too small.

[If you can help, please send a cheque to: 3CR, PO Box 1277, Collingwood, VIC 3066. To contact 3CR, email admin@3cr.org.au or ph (03) 9419 4472.]