Greytown's Lucy Cooper is boosting a campaign to improve the community's understanding of Access Radio and the services it provides.

The Big Listen, to run throughout August, will be a month dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of Community Access Radio services in New Zealand.

Ms Cooper, the national coordinator for the campaign, believes Access Radio stations are pivotal to building strong and resilient communities.

She said the stations acted as both broadcasters and community facilitators, providing a media platform for groups whose voices aren't usually heard on mainstream radio.


These included ethnic, sexual and religious minorities, children, youth and the disabled.

"One of the things we come up against in access radio is that people don't understand what we are and why we're here.

"We're here to make sure the community can access the radio waves, to get their voices heard, to share their passions and points of view within their groups and within the wider community."

Ms Cooper said the nation's Access Radio stations don't make the programmes -- the people do.

"As a result, what's aired reflects the diversity and vibrancy of our communities.

"It's lively, rich, passionate and enthralling radio."

There are 12 community access radio stations in New Zealand, with Arrow FM on 92.7FM serving the Wairarapa community.

Each station provides the facilities, training and infrastructure to enable citizens to make their own radio.

Throughout The Big Listen month, each station will celebrate their programme makers, sponsors and supporters through special audio content, events and workshops.

As part of The Big Listen, Access Radio's major funder New Zealand on Air will be collaborating with the stations to launch a research project.

"It will explore the opportunities and challenges associated with the delivery of community broadcast services across the country," Ms Cooper said.

"I'm hopeful the research will be useful for the stations -- in how they can better reach and engage with their communities."

Ms Cooper, who worked for Arrow FM teaching Wairarapa school and community groups how to make their own radio programmes, pitched the Big Listen idea at last year's Access Radio conference held in Masterton.

"I was thinking about access radio stations, how they're all doing it on the smell of an oily rag, and how they're all helping the community within their regions.

"I thought there must be a way that we can celebrate that."

Following the conference, she was successful in gaining the support of Association of Community Access Broadcasters and NZ on Air, to launch the campaign.

The Big Listen website is in development, as well as a logo, both of which are expected to revealed in May.

"We're hoping our current programme makers will use this opportunity to celebrate what they're doing, and in doing so encourage others to come and use our services."

To find out more visit The Big Listen Facebook page,