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Getting a voice through Bumma Bippera Media

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Two Indigenous men and two Indigenous women in black t-shirts stand in a room on a hard floor and behind a banner which says BBM 98.7FM. Behind them are black vertical banners with similar logos and writing.
From left: Jeziah Tillett, Jackie Tim, (Station Manager), Matthew Motlop and Jedess Hudson
26 Nov 2019

Radio station Bumma Bippera Media (BBM) is a voice for Indigenous people all over Cairns and surrounding districts. The station can be heard through various Indigenous stations such as Hopevale Radio Cape York and stations in Townsville and Mackay and others throughout NSW, SA and WA.

Station Manager Jackie Tim said her main goal is empowering Indigenous voices.

‘Their voices need to be heard on radio,’ Jackie said.

‘If you have Indigenous content, shouldn’t it be better coming from a First Nation’s voice?’

BBM, which translates as ‘Bama people talking or making sound’, has been operating since 1998 in Cairns. It currently employs 3 full-time staff, 2 part-time and 4 casual staff with contractors who come when needed.

Much of the staff are young and proud of their culture. They come to BBM to learn the broadcasting business but also life lessons, after which they move on.

Every year, 5 Indigenous youth from high schools in Cairns, sign up as School Based Apprentices. Mentored by Community Elders, they learn about life, responsibility and of course, all things broadcasting. They complete a Certificate III in Media and most importantly, produce and host a radio show on their own.

BBM’s target audience is the whole community and serves them with a format which includes amongst other things, ‘brekky’ and drive-time programs and a talkback program called TalkBlack.

It includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music, Country, Australian and 'Classic' music with local artists also showcased, and provides important community services and messages.

Which way yarning is a 30 minute program once a week where the community can listen to and question police officers about youth crime and various other community issues.

If you need legal advice, then Indigenous Law/Marrawah Law is a segment to tune into covering a variety of legal topics nationally including: domestic violence, Director’s duties, buying a home, Native Title, preparing a will and many more topics.

There are programs in language and religious programs.  Other specialist programs discuss health and diet, men’s issues, careers and employment.

A show called Youth Focus is hosted by employers from YouthLink.

Each week, 2 high school students from AFL Cape York House attend BBM and co-host the Brekky Show in the morning to talk to their fellow students.

Some programs are targeted at the elderly and hosted by Indigenous and non-Indigenous elders. There are multicultural programs and other shows run by non-Indigenous presenters.

 BBM is proud to have 28 volunteers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) ranging in age from youths to elders from the community.

Many of the programs are re-broadcast by communities around the country as well as some from Cape York.

Where funding from a community outside of Cairns is available, BBM can visit to do an ‘outside broadcast’ on the invitation from the community.

In the past year, they have visited 30-35 communities to broadcast from festivals, career expos, historical events and other important occasions like the return to Old Mapoon.

They also train broadcasters in remote communities in the use of equipment and in how to produce programs. Training was held this year at Hope Vale Radio Station.

Like all successful enterprises, BBM puts much of its energy and focus into the youth.

Ten years ago, a 19 year old unemployed Matthew Motlop came to BBM on a two week training experience.

He liked what he was doing so he filled in an application form and now he’s a Senior Broadcaster with the station.

‘I’m motivated to wake up every morning and come to work to wake up everybody else in the community,’ Matthew said.

Like the youth before and after him, Matthew is using his voice to ‘wake up’ everybody in the Far North Qld area and various places in the Cape to the importance of life, community and culture.

Find out more

The National Indigenous Australians Agency supports Bumma Bippera Media through the Culture and Capability stream of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

For more information, go to Bumma Bippera Media 98.7FM.

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