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All the lonely people, where do they all belong: Community radio and social connection

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The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) asserts that community radio should promote a culturally diverse society by representing those sections of the community much less visible in the mainstream media. This echoes the Australian Federal Government’s vision of social inclusion/cohesion in a society in which all Australians are valued and are able to participate fully. There are those, however, who are marginalised by mainstream culture and can find themselves alienated as a result of, for example, their language, religion, ethincity, sexuality or niche interests. Societal participation for those groups can be challenging and may mean some members feel a sense of isolation and lonliness. The incidence of loneliness in Australia is growing. The personal and social consequences of loneliness are significant for those affected but also for policy-makers. Community broadcasting is uniquely positioned to provide opportunities for volunteering, community participation, and sociability for niche community groups, all of which contribute towards countering the effects of loneliness. In this regard, community radio can be described as rhizomatic. It has the potential to generate social capital for the participants and the listeners via its many community entrance points and social pathways. Community radio is often a two-way street with content producers and consumers occupying the same position, thus blurring the line between the traditional professional broadcaster and the passive listener. The generated niche communities of interest expand away from a station towards the audience, and simultaneously, into the community station from the listeners. Overall, this article argues that community broadcasting in Australia should be valued as a medium that can reduce social isolation and enrich community cohesion.
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Keywords: Australia; community radio; loneliness; participation; social connection; social inclusion; volunteering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Murdoch University

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • The Radio Journal is committed to high-quality, diverse research in the arena of radio and sound media, from broadcast to podcast and all in between. We look for articles that explore the production, circulation and reception of radio and creative soundwork, addressing historical and contemporary issues in sound-based journalism and media studies from a wide range of national and transnational perspectives.
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