The National Features and Documentary Series is an annual collection of ten half-hour features and documentaries coming from Australia’s uniquely vast and vibrant community radio sector.
Like a compilation album of new radio work (but really, more like a commissioned suite), each year’s crop puts forward sound-rich productions from varied producers (and stations) around the country. 2016’s pieces, for example, include forays into ouija, regional refugee resettlement, genetically-modified organisms and Aboriginal community and culture. Previous series have touched on autism, riot grrl feminism, urban development, ketamine as mental health treatment, and a lot more.
Since 2014, the series – run by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia with support from the Community Broadcasting Foundation – has given life to audio storytelling from new and emerging producers around Australia. Anyone who volunteers at – or is employed by – an Australian community radio station is invited to apply regardless of skill level; successful applicants receive training and mentoring with experienced professionals through the Community Media Training Organisation. They also get paid, and have their stories shared around the country via the Community Radio Network.
In listening to the works, what you’ll notice immediately is the variety of topics and the cultural and geographic diversity of producers … and after that, the depth and quality of each. In fact, it’s a great demonstration of what community radio makers can do with the right time and resources invested in features. And while the stories are one-offs, you’ll quite possibly find yourself recognising names and voices from other podcasts and radio programmes – or wanting to. Saddle up for a genuinely surprising, engaging and uncommonly broad cluster of features.