This year, Melbourne’s LGBTQI community radio station celebrates 25 years on the airwaves, informing, educating, entertaining and elevating the voices of our diverse communities.

But there has been no time for cake and celebration, because JOY 94.9 is facing an uncertain future.

JOY’s annual Radiothon, the station’s major fundraiser, raised the lowest amount in 2019 in the past ten years, along with a drop in listeners in the past twelve months.

In August, former station president Melinda Rich announced that JOY will report a substantial deficit at the October AGM and that two of JOY’s skeleton staff would be let go as the station prepares to move to its new home in the Victorian Pride Centre.

This announcement was made days before JOY’s new CEO Ange Barry started in the role. One month on, we touched base with her to find out where things stand as JOY continues to move forward.

“I love the passion the community has for JOY and I think it is one of JOY’s greatest assets,” Barry told the Star Observer.

“We’ve got many really good assets. A great brand, great technology and a community radio license that allows us to be heard. But it is our people and the passion they bring which is by far our greatest asset. And as someone coming into the organisation and into a leadership role, to know that I have that to work with is really reassuring.”

Along with previous experience in community radio, Barry brings extensive executive leadership experience in corporate roles and more from the broadcasting and not-for-profit sectors.

‘Not only am I proud to work within my own community on one of my passions, which is radio, but I also bring my business experience and my knowledge on how to create sustainable futures for social organisations,” Barry said.

“I can see that JOY would benefit from making that shift, and I am really passionate to see great community organisations not just survive, but actually thrive.”

At the beginning of September, JOY held a members forum where the board outlined their future plans and allowed members to raise matters of concern for discussion in a full, frank and respectful environment.

“I felt really privileged to be at the meeting,” Barry said.

“Having a members forum is a really important step in good communication. And in an environment, such as JOY where the majority of people are volunteers, I think really good communication and transparent communication is so important.”

“The meeting was a great opportunity for me to meet members and see their passion firsthand.  It was great to see that everyone came there to see how we can learn from the past, articulate how we feel about that, and what can we do to move forward.”

“So many positive and constructive messages came out of the meeting, and it has given me a great list of things that I can work on as a CEO. It’s really important to understand that there is absolutely a trend happening in the not for profit space, and JOY is feeling that right now.”

“The trend is that donors, be it corporate, government or philanthropic, are relay looking at community groups to see how they can become partial self-sustaining through the work they do. It is a real shift and it’s a bit hard to get your head around sometimes, but I am looking to do that work here with JOY.”

“We are so lucky because we have great people, fantastic content and now we need to look at how we can further our mission of being a more inclusive Australia by really getting that content out well beyond our own communities and into workplaces and other community spaces. I think there’s a real opportunity there for us to find our stability by providing those services.”

Over the past few years, many long-standing volunteers have stepped away from the station, but Barry is hoping that, with the structure she is bringing to organisation, they will return to help strengthen JOY and elevate the 25 years worth of work and passion JOY is built from.

“To those that have moved away from JOY, you are more than welcome to come back,” Barry said.

“And now is the time we need you. We can all learn so much from each other, and I think the secret to a really successful community organisation is that those of us who have a longer history or experience with the organisation help to induct the newer ones into the culture. This will give us a chance for our culture to evolve and grow.”

“Those that have already met me can see that I am very much a communicator and I will continue to do that. For JOY to move forward we need everyone to come together and pitch in, and I know people already do that at JOY, which is why I have no fear around that for the future. Our volunteers’ passion will be critical in the coming months and gives me the confidence of a really bright future for JOY.”

JOY continues to hold regular training sessions for new volunteers who want to add their voice to JOYs diverse content, and will shortly be calling on others to step up and join the Board as JOY looks towards its future.

Find out more at www.joy.org.au

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