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Access Radio taking it to the streets

From L to R: André Manella on desk, Barry from Urenui 4 Square, Chris Foreman Access Radio Taranaki
From L to R: André Manella on desk, Barry from Urenui 4 Square, Chris Foreman Access Radio Taranaki

People, communities and places all have their own stories to tell.

Recording and sharing those stories is the motivation behind Access Radio Taranaki’s latest community outreach project.

Earlier this year the station launched its new mobile radio facility – a fully customised caravan, complete with kettle, sofa, recording and broadcasting equipment.

The Access team have been out on the road most weeks, visiting Taranaki towns, events and meeting places.

Before setting out, Michelle Bent, the station’s Community Liaison Manager, contacts local groups, to find out who to talk to.

“They’ve been so responsive. When I call they are often so excited – “nobody ever comes to us” they say! People are so proud of their towns, being able to capture that is a privilege.

It’s also exciting to see where the road takes us!” says Michelle.

“We meet the locals, share a cup of tea, get to know them, and if the time is right, gather their stories. At this stage we are still feeling our way.

We can do live to air, but right now we’re aiming to record people who feel comfortable, to share a few words with us.”

Eventually the goal is to encourage the local communities to run their own shows.

The project to create the facility was managed by Anne Dawson, the station’s Adminovator and Operations Manager.

“It took months to find the right vehicle, plan the logistics, figure out the layout, strip and fit it out. All the technical details.”

It was a team effort, with local and national businesses and people helping in various ways. Simon Barker from Nationwide RV provided a huge amount of support and advice.

“It was a labour of love. I cried when I saw the result,” says Anne.

Plans for the mobile station arose out of discussions between Alessandra Keighley, the Station Manager, Anne and TSB Community Trust staff.

“We didn’t go cap in hand, but not expecting a whole lot. We learnt that as a regional organisation we could apply for more funding.”

Anne describes that as mind boggling. “We thought – somebody believes in us this much! This was our chance to think bigger.”

It was a huge boost for the team and they went away to rethink their plans.

“We submitted two grant applications, a Capital one for the caravan, tow vehicle and equipment and a Programme and Event one for a new marketing strategy, website upgrade and staffing for the caravan.”

“We were so fortunate to get the funding.”

“We kept the caravan design simple. It invites people in, so they feel relaxed and want to sit down and talk,” says Anne.

“You need people’s trust before they share their stories. It’s not about us. It’s about hearing the community directly from the community. Diverse voices, different points of view - it opens the way for conversations,” says Michelle.

“Our communities have more in common than they sometimes realise. Topics like farming and sustainability. We can help bridge the gap,” says Anne.

The resourceful caravan has other uses. With its own generator on board the facility can also provide back-up power in an emergency.

Contact Access Radio to find out more