All The Lonely People, Where Do They All Belong: Community Radio and Social Connection


Date Of Publication: 2017
Authors: Simon Order
Published By: The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media. 

The incidence of loneliness in Australia is growing. The personal and social consequences of loneliness are significant for those affected but also for policymakers. This article argues that community broadcasting in Australia should be valued as a medium that can reduce social isolation and enrich community cohesion. 

Ethnic minorities or migrants to Australia especially can experience a lack of connection to culture, custom, or simply community information that can be detrimental to their health and well-being. Loneliness also encompasses people isolated by circumstances such as those in prison; those experiencing a mobility issue or illness; or those with beliefs, political views, or artistic interests outside the mainstream. 

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. 

Some people are marginalised by mainstream culture and can find themselves alienated because of their language, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or other issues. Societal participation for those groups can be challenging and may mean that some people feel a sense of isolation and loneliness.  

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia posits that community radio should promote a culturally diverse society by representing those sections of the community much less visible in the mainstream media.  

In this regard, community radio 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.  

The full paper is available from Volunteering WA on request.