The only independent media left is community radio and small family-owned print publications like Have a Go News, says Barry Green, long term owner of WA Tourist Radio.
“It is important to tell the stories of local communities and small businesses,” he says.
“The mainstream media is too large, too dependent on corporate advertising.
“Government tourism promotion has concentrated on international visitors. It does not overly encourage West Australians to explore their own state.
“If you listen to tourist radio you will realise that tourism is not all about foreigners. We aim to help visitors and locals learn more about the area and help them to discover unique local attractions and experiences.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed WA tourism for the moment with a call to wander out yonder, but Barry wonders if that emphasis will continue when overseas travel returns to normal.
He says the farming media is also in the thrall of fertiliser and chemical manufacturers who are the big advertisers.
“The farming community need to reconnect. We need to talk about regenerative agriculture. The modern Australian diet has fewer vitamins and minerals than we used to eat at the end of World War II.”
Barry and his partner Dale bought WA Tourist Radio over 20 years ago, shortly after Barry left GWN as the local TV station was swallowed by an eastern state media giant. It broadcasts local stories, local events and local music in Busselton, Bunbury, Dunsborough, Augusta and Cowaramup on 87.6FM. More recently he has added Radio WA 87.6 FM in East Perth.
Programs are also available as an audio magazine on the internet.
“The Internet represents the best of capitalism,” says Barry.
“It provides a bottom-up source of information; it democratises information.”
Tourism associations in the South West are invited to swap links with Touristradio.com.au at no charge.
“Stories are passed down from generation to generation. Retelling the stories provides traditional knowledge for farmers and consumers.
“We need to learn how best to manage fires and maintain the soil from Aboriginals who have been caring for country for thousands of years. Aboriginals are used to listening to the wisdom of their elders.
“Our radio stories are not about celebrities; they are about local events and local people. We interview local people who are making WA what it is today. We are passionate about our future and our state and the people we interview are also passionate about their businesses and community organisations.
“We can talk about local businesses and events in depth that will interest both visitors and locals. Holiday makers listen in their accommodation, tent or caravan to help plan their next day’s activities.
“We aim to make our radio programs sound more like a very local version of the ABC’s Australia All Over.”
Barry has a vision of cooperating with independent print media, like Have a Go News, to promote local attractions and farm and station holidays.
“For great stories in print and radio media the total effect is greater than the sum of the parts,” he says.
Barry and Dale have owned and run a farm near Donnybrook since 1988 and have renovated a cottage on the farm for farmstay accommodation. Barry is also president of Donnybrook Community Radio and promotes Pet Friendly WA so pet owners can bring their furry friend on holiday with them.
Barry wants the whole community, not just giant corporates, to benefit from tourism and for tourists to gain an authentic WA experience.