Local radio as it ought to be
Local radio is about giving a community a voice, says Farren Hotham, the new station manager at Orange’s FM107.5.
Farren’s appointment is historic for our local community radio station, as it is the first time they have had a paid manager in the job.
Farren brings a wealth of experience to the station, having worked across radio, television, print and digital media for the past 40 years.
As a young student in Bathurst, Farren dreamed of being a race caller on radio and at 15 he left school to work at the local radio station 2DS. He then followed radio jobs to Dubbo, Melbourne and Sydney before taking an opportunity to move into television in Canberra.
He since has produced sports programs for SBS and sports news for Channel 7, he was supervising producer with Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports team and executive producer of Channel 10s Sports Tonight program.
After a stint running a digital media company in the Philippines, Farren returned to Australia and the Central West, taking up the editorship of the Wellington Times.
“I'd only written for TV and radio before, but I went there and did that, and I learnt something new which was great. It was a great experience,” said Farren, who couldn’t keep off the air wave and spent his spare time at Wellington’s community radio station.
“I spent about 70 hours a week working at the newspaper and the other 60, I volunteered at the community radio, I did the breakfast show, I was the program manager and virtually the manager as they didn't have one,” said Farren.
Orange will be the third community radio station Farren has been involved in and he is passionate about the importance of keeping local radio truly local.
“The focus of any community station is the area it serves, it gives a voice,” said Farren. “The biggest problem, in my humble opinion, with radio these days is there is a lot of syndication, the ‘localism’ has gone out of it. Here we can concentrate on our community, we can give them information that they can't really get anywhere else in radio.
“It is very much like your Orange City Life; it is totally local, everything you see there is about Orange and that is what this should be — all about Orange and the surrounding area.
“It is like AM radio stations in the old days; they were all about where you lived and that is something that has been lost for a lot of people.”
The Orange Community Radio Station boasts a roster of 25 volunteers, something Farren considers a real strength.
“In the future we will be freshening the format of the station”
“The thing I admire coming here is the bevvy of great voices there are. A lot of really good voices here and they are good communicators — people who can communicate to the community, play music they have an affinity with and also talk about things that are happening around them,” said Farren.
“And they range from young, 24 years old right through to 85!”
While it is still early days, Farren has plans to help build the station’s audience and bring in more sponsorship, but also making sure they are the local voice for the region will be a priority.
“In the future we will be freshening the format of the station, making it a lot newer and also moving the market with more community news — I think they do quite a good job at now, but we'll have a lot more of that…In my opinion and the more we can turn it into a 24 hour local station, so it is 100 percent local across the board, that is my intention.
“And with the management committee who are fabulous with their support I think we can go ahead and do that.”