TAMWORTH has been hand-picked as one of four regional towns to potentially host a new multicultural radio station to be beamed across the country.
It is the brainchild of former Tamworth man Russell Anderson who has begun the lengthy lobbying process to establish the station through his work with the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC).
The project would see stations established in Shepparton, Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Tamworth.
While primarily re-transmitting broadcasts from metro areas, it would allow for Tamworth’s migrant, multicultural and ethnic communities to produce their own programs and stories, putting the city in the national spotlight.
Mr Anderson visited Fiesta La Peel on the weekend and pitched the idea to local leaders and stakeholders.
He said there was a need to give migrants a voice through radio in the highlighted regional areas.
While programs could be broadcast in foreign languages, Mr Anderson dismissed any notion it would isolate people, but said it would provide an important connection for migrants living regionally.
“It doesn’t make them a silo away from the community,” he said.
“It empowers them … they start to have to get out and become leaders themselves and connect with the wider community.”
All nationalities would be welcome to use the station and he said there could be scope for local Indigenous programming.
Mr Anderson grew up in Tamworth and said the city had completely turned around in regards to multicultural appreciation and acceptance, highlighting the success of Fiesta La Peel.
Multicultural Tamworth’s Eddie Whitham welcomed the project and said it was “the next step” for the city.
He said the initiative would help build connections and provide obvious benefits for the city’s newest residents.
“If you’ve come from a long way away some little things like music, conversations or something from home, we all need it,” he said.
“Even if we’re overseas, we will head for our own channels.”
It would be at least two years before the project gets off the ground, if it is successful.
The NEMBC would have to acquire a radio licence for each broadcast area from the federal government through the Australia Communications and Media Authority.
The council and local stakeholders would also have to display the need, capacity and desire for the project in the community, with local organisations, multicultural groups, radio stations and politicians needed to get involved.
Funding for the station, should it be established, would be sought through the federal government, other agencies and philanthropists.