Members of Melbourne GLBTI radio station JOY94.9FM have given the broadcaster the thumbs up to play a greater advocacy role in the wider community.
According to a recent internal survey, just over 94 percent of JOY94.9 members want the station to speak up when discrimination occurs in the mainstream media.
JOY94.9 president Stephen Duns told Southern Star the results present a clear mandate and the station will analyse the response from members on issues they want the station to go in to bat for.
“It’s clear we’re a trusted voice in the community and I think with that comes responsibility,” Duns said.
“What we’re going to do is work with the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and ALSO [Foundation] and anyone else to come up with the key messages, so when we put something out we have a thought-through and considered response.”
Last year JOY94.9 joined with other community organisations, led by the ALSO Foundation, to speak out publicly against comments reportedly made by former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett likening gay men to pedophiles.
Duns said it is this sort of action he believes JOY94.9 could build on. He said the station could have spoken out more prominently over the recent tabloid Home and Away lesbian storyline furore.
The plans have not been without opposition. Some station members expressed concern the advocacy role may undermine the station’s impartiality.
Duns rejected this criticism, which he attributed to a “vocal minority”, saying any position the station takes externally will not affect on-air programming.
“There’s a very deliberate and concerted separation between the board and programming,” Duns said.
“The board has absolutely no say over programming, it doesn’t get involved at all. I make no bones whatsoever about a need to be partial to really represent our community, and in the mainstream press where there’s no obligation for us to be impartial [about GLBTI issues], absolutely none.”
The station will appoint three volunteer communications coordinators to help the station respond to issues as they arise.

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