What started in 2004 as a mobile “suitcase” community radio with young women in-school volunteers from Saint Joseph Secondary School, conducting monthly “weekend” broadcasts with a 100W transmitter, is now a 24 hour station with a 300W transmission - covering the Navua- Nausori corridor. Not only is the geographical coverage larger, but so is the audience base which covers the very densely populated Suva-Nausori corridor.
Having started with one single “suitcase radio” station in 2004 and now managing the Pacific’s first women-led community radio network, FemLINKPACIFIC is undertaking a technical expansion of FemTALK 89FM Suva to cover the Navua to Nausori corridor of Viti Levu by upgrading the transmission power to 300 watt which will enable FemTALK 89FM Suva to reach communities in some of the most densely populated areas of Fiji, in particular the Suva – Nausori corridor.
The technical expansion was funded through a grant from the Australian Government, as part of its Pacific Women program, providing long-term support to increase gender equality in the Pacific. The grant builds on FemLINKPACIFIC’s successful demonstration of the role of community media, particularly community radio, in addressing the under-representation of women and young women in decision making and political leadership at local and national level.
The Suva station runs 24 hours a day, with hosted shows happening during the day between 7am and 7pm most days – Morning Waves starts of the live shows, featuring Who Makes The News, with Rainbow Connections (Open to and hosted by members of the LGBTIQ community) during the mid-morning from Monday to Wednesday. Thursday mid-morning features the Look at my Abilities show – for, by and about women with disabilities. Live shows during the weekend are more general but are still run by young women in all their diversities.
Apart from the Suva Community Media Center (CMC), FemTALK89FM also broadcasts weekly from the Labasa CMC in Vanua Levu as well as maintaining a mobile “suitcase” radio that is taken to women in the rural areas.
Primarily, much of the work of the suitcase radio has been bridging the inter-generational gap that exists – with young women learning the technology and older women finding their voice, often after years of being told to be silent. The expansion of the suitcase radio and all of its growth since 2008 has only been possible through years of work and dedication by teams of young women producer-broadcasters.