In 2014 the Bristol based community radio Ujima Radio aired a show ´Women on the Waves´ as a look back on women in broadcasting from Bristol´s FEM FM until the present time. FEM FM was one of the first solely female radio station in Britain, as said by Kate Coyer started to broadcast in 1992, in time when women were under-represented in both mainstream and community stations- only 22% of full-time paid staff in community radio across Europe were women (Coyer, 2007:22). The question if in 2015 women as broadcasters are under-represented is still open. But the activities of UK´s Soundwomen networking platform or the FEM FM Future projects like the Ujima Radio collaboration in order to raise a future generation of female broadcasters, only shows that even thought women positions in the broadcasting may have raised, the encouraging of women to enter the broadcasting and supporting them has its strong base also 20 years later.
The problem of female under-representing on air is but not just a matter of equaling the balance between men and female presenters, but increasing the voice of females in general. When talking about the differences of commercial radio and community radio this is the domain of the community radios who localize and specialize on and support a certain community like women. As presented in the article about the Montreal conference of Community-Oriented Radio Broadcasters from Peter M. Lewis, community radios are a reaction toward established models either of the state broadcasting system or the commercial one. Furthermore in comparison with commercial radio, that tend to neglect important ´minority´ voices, for community radios needs are crucial.
One of unique examples of a community radio is Astute Radio. In their broadcasting they give space to women and girls from minority communities to challenge gender and other stereotypes. When I look on the broad issues that this radio deals with it leaves me, only but thinking that a female community radio station is not just about feminism, but about giving space to stories of women that any other women can relate to. From abolishing the myths of a female scientist, overcoming a burnout syndrom to overcoming the loss of job. The interviews of women, various women from different backgrounds with diverse stories are inspiring, encouraging and hardly being find in this form in any other commercialy driven radio station. Astute Radio would perfectly fit into the framework of Maria Eugenia Chávez´s views about a community radio.
“Community radios are rich with stories of women. All of these tales could fill hours and hours of broadcasts and women’s voices would be the conduit for bringing these talking stories to life. Thus, it would be a radio broadcast story about women and radio.” (Chávez, Unesco: Gender and newsroom cultures)
One of such stories of a women and a community based radio is also the launching of Nisaa Gaza, Palestinian female radio. Islam Barbar, a 26-year old women thanks to a grant from UK, Palestinian NGO that gave her the technic and with volunteers made her dream about a community radio that would deal with women rights true. But at the same time the presence of men and women in her radio station is also about a message that gender issues are not the exclusivity of women. (Kutab, Huffington post blog). The empowerment of women like Islam Barbar and other women though a community radio is one of the scopes of the World Association of Community Broadcasters that is supporting the ideas of women-led iniciatives around the world.
About Astute Radio http://www.astute-radio.com/about/
Coyer, K., Dowmunt, T. and Fountain, A. (2007) The Alternative Media Handbook. London: Routledge
Kuttab, D. (2014) ´Palestinian trying to rebuild progressive women radio´, in Huggington Post blog. http://www.amarc.org/?q=node/1963
Lewis, P. (1984) ´Community Radio: The Montreal Conference and after´, in Media, Culture & Society, vol. 6, pp. 137-150.
Maria Eugenia Chávez. ´Scheherezades: a thousand an one stories of women in community radio´, in UNESCO: Gender and Newsroom cultures http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/publications/gamag_research_agenda_chavez.pdf
The Bristol Post (2014) ´Women on the Waves: Ujima Radio and Fem FM present the next generation of radio talent´, in The Bristol Post