Women's Radio Network
By Bronwen Beechey
MELBOURNE — "Betty Blacktown" is how one Sydney news director of a commercial radio station described his audience. "She's not too bright and listens to the radio from home where she's looking after the house and her young kids while her husband is at work."
It's attitudes like this that the Women's Radio Network is setting out to challenge. Established two years ago in Sydney, the network is now about to be launched in Melbourne. Fiona Sewell from public radio station 3CR explains that, while many women rely on radio for information and entertainment, this is not reflected in the numbers of women working in radio. "If you look in the Green Guide, you can count the women on the fingers of one hand."
"We see the network as fulfilling three basic functions: firstly, as a support network for women working in radio, secondly to improve the status of women in radio, and thirdly to look at the way women are being portrayed by radio", Sewell says. While most of the network's supporters are working for the ABC and public radio, Sewell is eager to involve women working for commercial radio as well. "There are even fewer women working in this area, and the attitudes to women expressed on air are much worse", she says.
The Women's Radio Network will be launched on September 8, with a dinner at Baker's Cafe in Fitzroy. Speakers will include Ramona Koval from 3LO, the Coming Out Show's Anna Schinell and 3CR's Fiona Studdert. Sewell stresses that this will be a relaxed and informal occasion.
"Radio is a powerful and intimate medium", Sewell says. "If it is to reflect the real lives and aspirations of women we need more women on both sides of the microphone."
For more information or to book for the launch, contact Fiona Sewell or Ruth Barney on (03) 417 4341.