Matthew Romania has been volunteering at Kinglake Ranges Radio since November 2011. He's the producer and host of Hear & Now, a Sunday afternoon show that features music by young Victorian bands, interspersed with local news and bulletins.
'I never imagined I could be on the radio,' says Matthew, ' and I really like being able to present music by Victorian bands.'
He explains that getting involved was as easy as answering an advertisement in the Kinglake Ranges Mountain Monthly. 'Presenters wanted, training provided' was what the ad said and Matthew decided to give it a go. 'I thought it was pretty generous of them to offer the training for free and it was something I wanted to do, so I signed up.'
Matthew has since become an important fixture at the radio station, bringing skills to the role that extend well beyond the presentation of music and local news – he's also contributed with web skills, social media savvy and marketing.
Just recently Matthew has been inducted onto the radio station's committee of management and he's also active at also active at radio station events. His role at the station is expanding.
He admits that's one of the challenges of volunteering when you're doing something you love. 'You really have to balance your time,' he says. 'You want to spend so much time on the radio because you love it so much, and it's also helping the community which is great. Sometimes it's hard to maintain that balance so that you're not forgetting your other priorities.'
Funding is another challenge, says Matthew. As a committee member he's now even more aware of that aspect of the radio station. Fundraising events such as 'Live on the Lawn' and Trivia Nights all help.
He says it can be frustrating at times, getting out to the people. 'There's always something going on and it's much harder to do the outside broadcasts at the markets with just a couple of people. We really need to have five or six of us there handing out leaflets and raising the station's profile.'
When it comes down to the line, however, the positives outweigh these minor irritations. 'I think we play a really important role in the local community generally,' he says, 'and I love being involved in such an important community resource. I've learned new skills and the people you meet in a role like this can teach you so much. Everybody has something different to offer and you can learn something from everyone.'
If you're thinking about volunteering, Matthew's advice is, 'Don't even think about it, just do it! You won't regret it. The skills you gain, the people you meet along the way... it's all great.'
Kinglake Ranges Radio can be heard on 94.5 FM within transmitter range or online from anywhere – just head to the station's website www.kinglakerangesradio.org
If you're interested in volunteering in community radio, contact your local station. Most stations have a website where they publish volunteer opportunities as they become available. You could also check the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) website opportunities page