COMMUNITY RADIO station Voice FM is celebrating its 33rd birthday next weekend.
The independent not-for-profit station has evolved since a group of Ballarat residents first flagged the concept of a community radio station for the city in August 1979. After a series of public meetings, a committee was formed and in 1982, the station was founded as 3BBB. A full licence was awarded in May 1986, securing the station's future.
With an array of diverse programs airing each week encompassing foreign languages, sport, music and current affairs, the radio station encourages all members of the community to be involved, with some of the programs broadcast on the national airwaves.
Every weekday at midday the station hosts a program named The Courier on Air, which provides listeners with vision impairments a means to access both local news and community information through a reading of the newspaper.
The program, supported by Vision Australia, initially saw a number of volunteers trained and added to the roster in 2003, but participation has boomed and there is now a team of more than 40 volunteers.
Ron Woods, board chairman of Voice FM, said community radio was "essential".
He said the station provided a platform for all different sectors of the community to be involved and share their views.
The station broadcasts across the region from Talbot, Beaufort, Smythesdale and Ballan, 24 hours a day and despite its popularity, the 33 year journey thus far has not all been smooth sailing.
Like most volunteer-run organisations, the co-operative relies of funding.
In the lead up to the upcoming federal election, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia is seeking to garner support from sitting members of Parliament as well as candidates to translate better policy for community radio. It is seeking commitments on two key policies: long term funding certainty to ensure broadcasting remains viable and extra funding to allow for development.
Voice FM will host a trivia night on Saturday, May 4 at Victoria Bowling Club to celebrate its birthday and raise funds for the station. Entry is $20 per person.