21 Apr 2020

Community radio gives renewed voice to bushfire victims

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The Paul Ramsay Foundation and the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas are jointly funding a radio documentary series on Australia’s recent bushfires. From the Embers will premiere on community radio stations across the country from 21 April.

The world is now pre-occupied by the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it easy to forget that only a few months ago, hundreds of communities across Australia were confronted with an unprecedented bushfire season which saw lives, homes and businesses lost and native flora decimated.

In an effort to tell and preserve their stories, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) in partnership with nine community radio stations, has produced a nine-part radio series that takes listeners to the heart of communities devastated and traumatised by the bushfires.

Each episode explores a different theme. The first episode of the series, ‘Radio Saves the Day’, reveals just how important local radio can be for communities, delving into exactly what occurs if a transmitter burns down during a crisis. Episode 2, ‘Home and Housed’, will be released on 28 April and looks at the millions of animals endangered by the bushfires and the people who tried to save them. ‘Mosquito Army’, the third episode, explores just how far a community will go to protect their town.

The Chief Executive of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Professor Glyn Davis, said it was a privilege to partner with the CBAA and the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

“Community radio stations are trusted and important contributors to local communities.

“For this series, they went out into their communities – despite COVID-19 – allowing people to give their own first hand experiences of the fires. This is an important and moving record of these experiences.”

The Executive Director of JNI, Mark Ryan, said radio was uniquely suited to bringing to life the danger and drama local communities experienced during the fires.

“These personal stories of courage and resolve, told by the community broadcasters who themselves played such a critical role during the crisis, makes for compelling listening and provides insights into how to better prepare for the next, inevitable bushfire season,” he said.

The series will also be available online as podcasts from April 28, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, TuneIn and iHeart Radio.