First, recognise your strengths. As an ethnic and multicultural broadcaster, you are the most experienced person to be talking about multicultural community radio and migrant issues. You already know what to say and you can speak from the heart. Politicians really like it when they hear real stories by real people and that is what community radio is all about.
Here are some ideas to improve on the many things you already know.
There are many different types of program you can prepare, each with their own advantages and challenges.
One-on-one interview with a politician
There are two types of interviews you can prepare for a politician, a hard interview or a soft interview.
In a ‘hard’ interview you want the politician to answer direct questions about their parties’ policies and agendas, and about community issues. You need to do your research and prepare questions you think your audience and community want answered. In this type of interview you really need to pay attention to what they are saying and notice if they are not giving a clear response. If they are not answering a question, you should try asking them again so your audience has an answer. You need to be confident and direct in your approach, but don’t be rude or impolite. If a member of the community is running for office, the public has a right to know what they will do if they are elected.
In a ‘soft’ interview you might want to take a more relaxed approach and focus on the personal side of the politician. You could ask them about the things they care about and why they got into politics, or you can ask about their personal life and achievements. This type of interview can be very interesting for the listener and give them a different understanding of the person. But remember, it is an election interview, so don’t be afraid to ask a few tough questions.
Invite a group of people from the community and the politician so that you are able to get a diverse range of views. Think about any tricky topics that might come up and how you will manage it if the conversation turns into an argument. You should have questions to help guide the conversation. Also, don’t be afraid to interrupt if the conversation starts to go off topic. You can interrupt politely by saying things like: ‘That’s an interesting point, we can talk about that later but let’s stay on this topic …’
If political leaders do not come on your show then start your own dialogue. Have a round table discussion with a group of community leaders. The same rules apply for a group interview with a politician; plan how you will manage the conversation.
Pre-recorded program with vox pops
You can create a magazine style pre-recorded program by interviewing people from your own community about the issues that are important to them. Record some vox-pops (mini-interviews with people from your community/ or on the street) and mix these with music in your language and your own reporting on politics.
Managing talkback can be a little bit tricky; talk to your station about their talkback policy and make sure you have one or two other people to help you with answering the telephones. All talkback shows ‘screen’ their callers, this means they answer the phone, find out what they want to talk about, and then tell the presenter who is on the line and what the issue is. In this way, the presenter knows what the topic will be and is prepared to ask relevant questions to the caller.
Report on ethnic community broadcasting
Even if you don’t want political discussion to be a main feature in your program, you can talk about funding for ethnic community broadcasting. You can report on the policies and commitments that different political parties have announced, or encourage listeners to write to politicians asking for them to support ethnic community broadcasting.
There are also a number of things you can do outside of your program:
- Invite candidates and political leaders to tour your station.
- Ask your listeners and community leaders to contact local candidates explain the importance of ethnic community radio and seek their support.
- Write to political parties and political leaders.
- Radio stations can become involved by organising forums and meetings.