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Umeewarra Radio, a meeting place for Country Music legends

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Aboriginal woman wearing glasses and a grey and pink top sits at a desk in front of a microphone. In the background is a rack of discs, a window and an Aboriginal flag.
Samantha Lee doing what she loves
26 Jun 2018

Umeewarra Radio based in Port Augusta, South Australia was named after nearby Lake Umeewarra, a gathering place for Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years.

In the summer months, to avoid the heat, Aboriginal groups would gather to enjoy the cooling effect of the lake and the nearby waters of what is now called Spencer Gulf.

For Senior Broadcaster, Samantha Lee and her fellow broadcasters, their radio station is also a gathering place.

Over the years, country music legends and rock stars sat in their studios and shared stories and opinions about life, being on tour and of course, music.

Samantha began in the broadcasting business as a trainee in 2002. Her favourite interview was with the late, Jimmy Little who she met at the Spirit Festival in Adelaide.

‘My parents used to listen to his music so I learned to love him too,’ Samantha said.

‘He was so down to earth and relaxed when we spoke. He engaged me and the audience with stories about how he started singing and writing songs.’

‘He spoke about the importance of Aboriginal and community radio, promoting Aboriginal culture, and sharing the positives of Aboriginal culture through singing, art, dance and events like the Spirit Festival in Adelaide.’

Photos and concert posters of Slim Dusty grace the walls of the office of Vince Coulthard, CEO of Umeewarra Media. Posters of other performers line the walls throughout the building and in the two studios.

The list of singers who have performed in the region, dropped into the studios or been interviewed by Umeewarra include Keith Urban, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Kasey Chambers, Casey Donovan, Troy Cassar-Daly, Christine Anu and Archie Roach.

And when they are not in the area, Samantha and the team go to them. Samantha caught up with Jessica Mauboy at the 2013 Spirit Festival in Adelaide.

But it’s not all music. Umeewarra Radio has messages to share on Aboriginal culture, reconciliation and building safe and prosperous communities.

Port Augusta is at the centre of the region that includes three of the largest towns in South Australia. It is also the crossroads of Australia, which means that Umeewarra is ideally placed to spread its message well beyond its radio transmitting range.

Keep an eye out for our coming story about the radio station, its history and achievements since it was founded in 1987.

Find out more

The Department of the Prime Minister supports Umeewarra Aboriginal Media Association through the Culture and Capability stream of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

For more information, go to Umeewarra Radio.

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