Posted by Darrel Robinson
Our Speaker last week was Jeff Harford, Community Liaison Manager at OAR FM in Dunedin.  Jeff addressed his brief “Who is Jeff Harford” by giving us a brief history of his life and a detailed description of his role at Otago Access Radio.

Jeff was born in Dunedin and loves Dunedin and is still discovering the City.  His early life was in North East Valley and later attended Kaikorai Valley High School.  He joined the Department for Courts as Jury Officer and sat through many High Court trials.  Following that, he took a year out and then became a Sub-Editor for the Otago Daily Times for 3 years.  A stint as a freelance writer followed and that was great fun but the income was poor.  He certainly did the job for its fun; not its money.
Next move was to Otago Access Radio here he remains to this day.  Otago Access Radio is one of twelve community access stations in New Zealand and these were set up to provide a vehicle for everyday New Zealanders to be heard.  Their mission is to reach out to under-represented sections of the community and these groups are listed in the Broadcasting Act.
OAR has 200 volunteers working across all roles in broadcasting including announcing, interviewing, and technical production to name a few. These activities provide valuable training opportunities.   In addition to co-ordinating these activities, Jeff also runs a 90 minute slot magazine style programme each weekday.  Jeff believes that audiences are embracing the Access Radio programmes and can be heard at 1575 AM or 105.4 FM.  In addition to the broadcast programme, each programme is available on line and some are podcasts.  Otago Access Radio programmes are accessed over 1 million times a year clearly demonstration the public’s desire for local programming.

Access Radio is funded in part by NZ on Air with other funding coming from Dunedin City Council and other organisations and charitable trusts. OAR also provides a valuable opportunity for new performers to start their careers. Currently OAR is running a series of programmes entitled “Rattling the Chains” as a lead up to the Mayoralty contest in the upcoming elections. There is plenty of opportunity to host shows and Jeff  is always on the look out for new content.
An interesting and well presented session with maybe more opportunity for Rotary programme input.