From one community media outlet to another, I had the pleasure of speaking with City of Swan-based community radio station VCA 88.5 FM’s presenter, chairperson and program manager, Nick ‘Jimmy’ Antartis.
If you have ever dreamt of your dulcet tones hitting the airwaves, 88.5FM is your place to start. They are always looking for volunteers and Jimmy, who was given the chance to live his dream, is dedicated to embracing the word ‘yes’ and paying forward the chance that was given to him.
“I dreamt of being on either TV or radio,” he said. “When this chance came up my partner and mates said, you have got to do this. I didn’t think they would give me, with no experience, a chance.
“I’ve been here since October 2017. A year later, I was training presenters and six months after that I became chairperson. Around me I have the most wonderful committee, presenters and people — our 88.5 FM family.”
Like most volunteer organisations it is passion and dedication that fuels the 88.5 FM family, creating a fun and joyous environment in which to work.
“The presenters are wonderful, they commit every week — once, twice, three times a week — to a time slot, to produce a show to entertain or inform the public. They totally commit 52 weeks a year so you know it’s done with heart. They are the ones that motivate me,” said Jimmy.
Former Northern Valleys Agribusiness Project manager Carolina Brander has a show on the station.
“My show is Passion Fruit on Air which is a space where we talk about passions in life and inspirational stories,” says Carolina.
“Every Wednesday we have a guest who shares their story. I love to bring those experiences to our audience; I think we can learn from others. Sometimes an idea leads us to do something amazing with our life. I love people, I believe that everyone has a story that should be listened to. VCA 88.5 FM brings a real sense of community, and our goal is to be the voice of the people of the City of Swan and surrounds.”
The diverse range of show topics is impressive, having grown from just seven shows per week in 2017, to more than forty-five today. You can tune in just to listen to 90’s hits for three hours on a Tuesday afternoon, hymns on a Sunday morning or a solid seven-hour party mix — commercial free — on a Saturday night.
This ability to pick and choose your listening schedule and to hear a local voice when you tune in, rather than the inane banter of former reality television stars in the Eastern states is resonating with audiences.
“Surveys tell us that probably half of the population in Perth rather listen — and do listen — to community radio as opposed to commercial, which is great!” says Jimmy.
“We livestream to the world. There are around 92 countries that listen to us through the day. Our listener base in the last three months has grown by more than 40%, just on streaming.”
If you are curious about the workings of a radio station but don’t necessarily want to be on air there will still be a volunteer position to fit, with various set roles at the station and flexibility to suit your skill set.
“I’m big on inventing a role – if you want to volunteer and have a skill, we will invent a role to suit,” says Jimmy.
With many outlets across all media platforms being downsized and genuine concern about the loss of state and regional news opportunities, supporting the hyper local voices of the community, like the Northern Valleys News and VCA 88.5FM, is vitally important.
“We do heavily rely on our sponsorship,” says Jimmy. “We offer a great deal and are understanding of the current climate.”
You can get in touch with VCA 88.5FM on 9297 1088, livestream at www.885fm.com.au, follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @radiovca88.5fm or search for 88.5 on your car radio next time you head out! In Jimmy’s words, let’s start rocking and let’s keep rocking!