Meander Valley Community Radio Inc. (MVFM) Strategic Plan
MVFM Vision Statement
Meander Valley Community Radio (MVFM), is the voice of a vibrant community, well informed and involved, that embraces diversity, shares differing opinions with respect, and encourages economic and social justice.
MVFM Mission Statement
Meander Valley Community Radio seeks to promote harmony and diversity and contribute to an inclusive cohesive and culturally diverse community. We are here for the community to enjoy and utilize, to support local arts, music and community events. We are a member/ sponsor/ grant run radio station that hopes to support real and perceived needs of Meander Valley.
MVFM has Core Values In all its undertakings, including the content and manner of radio broadcasts as well as business dealings internally and with the wider community.
MVFM is committed to the following set of core values:
• Is volunteer-based and listener-supported.
• Encourages free and open communication.
• Promotes positive social values.
• Honours and encourages creativity.
• Fosters an inclusive community.
• Allows expression of views that diverge from the mainstream.
• Strives to respect all individuals and institutions and to act in a way to earn respect.
• Is committed to transparency and uncompromising integrity in its operations.
MVFM Strategic Objectives
1. Maintain a high level of programming quality, broadcast quality and reliability with both terrestrial and streamed broadcasts.
2. Cultivate community and diversity to reflect the needs and culture of listeners and broadcasters.
3. Ensure adequate funding for ongoing station operations and for the capital campaign to complete construction and fit-out of MVFM’s new Studio.
4. Attract and maintain qualified and committed volunteers, and members of the Board of Directors.
5. Monitor and adapt to the changing radio environment, with attention to technology, alternative content delivery vehicles, demographics and the overall role of radio in our society.
6. Foster productive relationships among the Board, broadcasters and other volunteers
7. Develop concrete operational plans and budgets among all departments consistent with these Strategic Objectives
Why a Strategic Plan?
The purpose of MVFM’s strategic plan is to set a direction for the station over the next five years. The objectives in this plan have been developed using:
• The station’s mission, vision and values
• The results of surveys from members, listeners, volunteers, and staff
• The results of Board of Directors discussions and planning sessions.
• An analysis of external forces which affect the station, such as governmental broadcast regulations, economic conditions, and changes in technology.
This plan will build on MVFM’s strengths and use current information to set future goals.
How We Will Use the Plan
In adopting this plan, the MVFM Board of Directors establishes these strategic priorities and objectives as a roadmap for the next five years. The plan is intended to underscore and focus attention on these priority areas for board members and volunteers as they undertake operational planning and related initiatives through to 2023. This plan will be evaluated each year and adjusted as needed, based on community needs, station achievements and challenges, and the other factors mentioned above.
Broadcast Quality Strategic Direction
MVFM is committed to delivering high quality broadcasts. Quality is measured in terms of the reliability and strength of the broadcast signal, whether terrestrial or streamed online, as well as the quality of programming. Maintaining a quality signal or web stream requires a continued commitment to monitoring, analysis, and engineering to ensure that interferences are minimized. Maintaining quality programming requires a commitment to broadcaster training and attentiveness to listener feedback.
Why is it strategic?
Our broadcast is our product. Delivering a high-quality product is at the heart of fulfilling our commitment to our listeners and is why we exist as a community radio station. Delivering good radio and continuously improving our broadcasts is essential to retaining members, sponsors and listeners, turning listeners into members, and continuing to serve our community.
Consequences of not addressing:
We know from recent experience the impact of a diminished quality and loss of signal in the Meander Valley.
Past member and listener surveys reflected disappointment and dissatisfaction among those who could not get a clear signal in the Meander Valley area. Membership revenues declined, and the percentage of new members relative to renewing members also declined. There are many choices available for entertainment and news. We risk losing our listeners to other media if we do not maintain a high level of quality in our broadcasts.
Deliver High Broadcast Signal Quality, measured in terms of reliability and strength of the broadcast signal, whether terrestrial or streamed online.
Ensure that the station has the proper equipment, monitoring process, operating procedures and personnel to meet or exceed industry broadcast standards.
• State in writing, or provide written reference to, the industry broadcast quality standards that MVFM aims to achieve.
• Develop and maintain an equipment maintenance and refresh plan, including schedules for preventive maintenance and replacement of key equipment.
• Develop and implement a process for monitoring MVFM’s broadcast quality relative to industry standards.
• Provide annual report on performance vs. standards
• Provide initial and ongoing training for all broadcasters:
• (1) Require technical mastery of studio equipment.
• (2) Provide access to and training on studio equipment prior to going on air
• (3) Require all broadcasters to participate in regular refresher training.
• Create & deliver programming content that is unique, varied, and relevant to the community.
• Engage broadcasters as the primary visionaries for developing and maintaining programming content.
• Solicit inputs from listeners regarding the quality of the programming content
• Develop and maintain processes to evaluate and monitor the quality of the content.
• Ensure that the Program Committee has processes in place to evaluate and implement suggestions for program changes, and, as appropriate, to explain why suggestions may or may not be implemented.
• Engage broadcasters in the programming process
• Design & implement effective ways to involve the community in the programming process (e.g. Survey Monkey).
• Provide interviewing skills training to new broadcasters and refresher training to all broadcasters.
• Broaden the volunteer voices on MVFM.
• Regularly recruit new broadcast volunteers from throughout the broadcast area.
• Invite listeners—and potential new broadcasters—to record promotions, announcements, and other on-air spots to demonstrate the many voices in the Meander Valley community.
The Board is responsible for implementing these objectives and strategies, employing tactics that may include, but not necessarily be limited to, those presented here.
MVFM’s Community Strategic Direction
MVFM does not stand alone. As a community radio station, it must reflect the needs and culture of our listeners and broadcasters, and in particular the geographic community centred around The Meander Valley.
In all decisions, MVFM will consider and respect the wide-ranging views of its community, while recognizing that the community’s richness and diversity will inevitably result in occasional disappointment for some with the station’s programming and practices.
To a large extent, MVFM’s commitment to being an independent voice has defined its community, and MVFM’s continued vitality requires that it maintain its independent spirit.
Although MVFM reaches a much wider listening area than the Meander Valley community, it is not practical to provide the same level of locally-relevant programming (e.g., emergencies, news, school events, etc.) to all listeners as it provides for the Meander Valley.
MVFM is, first and foremost, a Meander Valley radio station. The Station broadcasts 24 hours, seven days a week. It has helped to define The Meander Valley, and those local roots are clear in much of its broadcast content. MVFM broadcasters bring the essence of our local community to the world, sharing stories of life in Deloraine, Westbury, and the surrounding towns and areas that make up the Meander Valley Council boundaries. These stories provide a vital community connection to our listeners. Including and engaging as many listeners as possible builds a sense of community and encourages and honours diversity. Our Slogan is “Your voice in the valley”
Why is it strategic?
The MVFM community is its heart and soul. The creative contributions of many enable MVFM to deliver its product at a relatively low cost. Maintaining and nurturing the connectedness that listeners feel to MVFM is essential to building and sustaining membership and community support, and to giving broadcasters the “juice” to deliver high-quality eclectic programming. This plan is, itself, a commitment to the MVFM community.
Consequences of not addressing.
Failure to nurture MVFM’s relationships among listeners, broadcasters, volunteers, potential listeners, non-listener supporters, sponsors and others in the broader community will result in a decline in the quality and diversity of broadcasts and in the station’s financial base.
• To cultivate community and diversity to reflect the needs and culture of listeners and broadcasters.
• Identify opportunities for two-way communication and interaction with listeners and other members of the community and utilise the feedback to guide the station’s continuous improvement.
• Identify opportunities to develop and nurture relationships and partnerships with other organizations, such as through news and public affairs programming, and utilizing the resources of the station.
• Conduct a new community survey to ensure continuity and freshness of inputs (e.g. Survey Monkey)
• Produce periodic events to bring the community together.
The Board is responsible for implementing these objectives, employing strategies and tactics that may include, but not necessarily be limited to, those presented here.
Fund Development Strategic Direction
MVFM shall develop a Fund Development Plan along the same lines as this Strategic Plan to provide a framework for development activities. The Fund Development Plan will define roles and responsibilities for carrying out the objectives listed below.
Why is it strategic?
MVFM requires a stable funding base to continue operations, as well as to achieve the forward-looking objectives of this plan. A broad base of support from a variety of sources (membership, sponsorship, grants, donations) is required, as supporters from any one group will look to the others for evidence that MVFM is fulfilling its mission and earning the support of its whole community. While development activities to support ongoing operations will continue, the capital campaign for funding the new studio, equipment and Transmitter rent is the highest priority.
Fund Development Initiative for the upcoming year 2018-19.
Consequences of not addressing.
Failure to raise sufficient funds to meet operating costs for the station will jeopardise MVFM’s ability to pursue the strategic objectives identified in this Plan.
Ensure adequate funding for ongoing station operations and for the capital campaign to complete construction of MVFM’s new studio and replace obsolete equipment.
• Create a multi-pronged fund development plan that ties directly to the budget and lessens the dependence on fund drives.
• Develop an ongoing process that is inclusive of board, broadcasters and community members to generate new ways to raise
• Complete the capital campaign to ensure that ongoing debt service payments are no higher than what MVFM would otherwise pay in rent, and to ensure timely repayment.
• Continue the grant-writing efforts that are underway as part of the Capital Campaign to secure funding for operations and program development.
• Employ a sponsorship salesperson to increase sales.
• Strengthen the Sponsorship program to generate more ongoing revenue to make up for declining membership revenue.
• Develop new ways for staff, volunteers, and broadcasters to thank sponsors on a regular basis.
• Establish annual/quarterly sponsorship and membership goals, including event sponsorship opportunities.
• Leverage the MVFM website to promote an environment of giving.
• Include a broadcaster and board member at outreach tables at all MVFM events.
• Hold "Meet the Broadcasters" events.
• Require regular broadcaster training on proven pitch techniques during membership drives.
• Use member testimonials to complement broadcaster pitches; use a broad variety of voices as closers and throughout member drives.
• Establish training program for membership drive volunteers.
• Employ or utilise a volunteer as a Membership Officer
• Routinely follow up lapsed members.
• Achieve 100% membership among broadcasters and board members to demonstrate internal commitment to the importance of membership as basic to supporting the station.
• Use membership and survey data to plan development initiatives and build on demonstrated strengths.
4. Board Development Strategic Direction
Members of the MVFM Board of Directors should have the necessary skills, interest, commitment and time to oversee the execution of this plan consistent with their roles and responsibilities.
Why is it strategic?
The objectives in this plan will require policies, oversight, monitoring, and accountability if they are to be achieved. The Board of Directors and its Board Development Committee will ensure these things are in place and are routinely reviewed.
Consequences of not addressing.
MVFM will not achieve the objectives of this plan and we will not be able to attract qualified and committed new Board members.
Attract and maintain qualified and committed members of the Board of Directors.
Ensure that MVFM Board of Directors is comprised of a full complement of members that have the necessary skills, interest, commitment and time to fulfil the requirements of the Board, including overseeing the execution of this plan.
• Routinely promote on the MVFM website and on the air the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors.
• Ensure that Board members understand the expectations, roles and responsibilities Board members as described in the constitution.
• Create communication channels to educate and generate interest in Board service (e.g. Website, LinkedIn)
• Provide continuing education opportunities for all Board members at least once a year (e.g., workshops, webinars, etc.)
• Provide orientation and materials (policies, contact info, etc.) to new Board members before or at their first Board meeting.
• Each new board member will sign a board contract before being seated on the board, so board member expectations are clear.
• Board members and committee chairs will report annually on what they intend to accomplish in the upcoming year.
• Use community events like member drives, general meetings, and MVFM events to build relationships among Board members and with the public. Each Board member will participate in at least three activities each year.
• Maintain the station’s board culture (consensus, collaboration, creativity, listening) by describing the culture to potential board members during vetting, and emphasize it each board meeting, at retreats and orientation activities, and as needed.
• Create a database of potential board members. Each current board member should provide at least two names annually to this database, to be overseen by the Board Development Committee.
• Use resources like membership lists, personal relationships, sourcing from other organizations, broadcaster input, the station's website, on-air PSAs etc.
The Board Development Committee is responsible for implementing these objectives, employing strategies and tactics that may include, but not necessarily be limited to, those presented here.
Changing Radio Environment
MVFM recognizes that technological and cultural changes have affected and will continue to affect the way in which people listen to radio, the demographic groups that listen to radio, and the overall role of radio in our society. To remain vital, MVFM must stay aware of where and how it fits into the larger radio picture and consider that when making decisions related to programming, investment in technology, and marketing.
Why is it Strategic?
MVFM’s continued success, and even survival, will require that it stay attuned to these changes and understand its role in this evolving medium.
Consequences of not addressing.
MVFM could easily get left behind by not keeping up with technological advances or by not remaining intentional about the kind of radio station that we want to be.
To Employ a Station Manager (Part-time or volunteer) to oversee operations, Training, policy etc
Monitor and adapt to the changing radio environment, with attention to technology, alternative content delivery vehicles, demographics and the overall role of radio in our society.
• Develop proficiency and infrastructure for various digital media vehicles, e.g. Internet streaming
• Invest in new radio station technology that is easier to use, enables new capabilities and reduces operating costs
• Create interactive mobile and social media tools to better engage listeners.
• Assess extent to which we want to market MVFM brand worldwide using the internet.
• Ensure that MVFM is reliably and conveniently available on-line, including over mobile devices, and that listeners are informed as to how to access MVFM on-line.
• Develop and maintain a relevant, fresh website that is available, current, complete, timely, and presents MVFM in the best possible light.
• Develop proficiency in social media to maximize the station’s promotion effectiveness.
• Provide broadcasters with initial and ongoing training on the various technologies available for creating, archiving and retrieving content.
• Ensure that infrastructure supports goals for streaming capacity.
• Obtain artist releases whenever possible to permit for future rebroadcast of content.
The board is responsible for implementing these objectives, employing strategies and tactics that may include, but not necessarily limited to, those presented here.
The MVFM Board, broadcasters and other volunteers all play critical roles for the station. Clarifying these roles and responsibilities and understanding the relation between various roles will help station staff and volunteers meet this Plan’s objectives and will minimize possible conflict or misunderstanding in the regular course of business. Good communication among all stakeholders is essential.
Why is it strategic?
Assigning the right people to the right jobs will increase the likelihood of this Plan’s success. Clear definition of duties and identifying opportunities for collaboration and partnership will maximize use of our limited resources. Consequences of not addressing Confusion of roles, conflict, responsibilities “falling through the cracks.”
Foster productive relationships among the Board, staff, broadcasters and other volunteers
• Identify and promote opportunities for social interactions between stakeholder groups.
• Define roles & responsibilities and communications channels among board/ volunteer/broadcaster/community.
• Improve communication and transparency of work done by board, broadcasters and committees.
• Identify and implement one social event per quarter to bring stakeholders together.
• Use board meetings for broadcaster/volunteer/community engagement.
• Appoint a Board liaison to the Program Committee meetings.
• Ensure that all committee work is documented and made accessible on Google Drive.
The Board Development and Station Development committees will collaborate to implement these objectives and strategies, employing tactics that may include, but not necessarily be limited to, those presented here.
Integration of Plans Strategic Direction
This Strategic Plan provides high-level objectives. Concrete operational plans and budgets will be required in order to identify priorities, specific activities, resources, and schedules required to achieve these objectives.
Why is it strategic?
Integration of this Strategic Plan with other MVFM planning initiatives ensures that those other initiatives reflect our values and priorities. It keeps everything running on track. Consequences of not addressing Strategic objectives essential to station survival are not enacted. The station misses community building and fundraising opportunities. Limited station resources are not focused on the activities necessary to achieve the objectives outlined in this Strategic
Develop operational plans and budgets for all departments and Board committees that are consistent with these Strategic Objectives.
Create an over-arching annual calendar of processes and identify areas and timing of interdependent process that need integration
• Update the Strategic Plan every two years.
• Develop annual budgets with clear strategic objectives, identified through this Plan, and reflecting input from members, listeners, broadcasters, and other relevant sources.
• Develop work plans for committees that provide specific and measurable goals as well as opportunities for staff and volunteer development.
• Work plans are to be in alignment with this Strategic Plan. Work plans should also identify ideas and opportunities for staff and volunteer development
• Work plans should identify data sources that will be used for measuring progress toward achieving their stated goals. Implementation All MVFM staff and committees have responsibility for integrating their respective work plans with this Strategic Plan.
MVFM History and Strategic Plan Context
MVFM was started by a small group of people with a dream of creating a non-profit community radio station for the Meander Valley. It went on the air for the first time in 2009. Housed in makeshift facilities in rented premises in the Deloraine Creative Studios using the call letters MVFM for Meander Valley FM. It increased its power and began broadcasting 24 hours a day. A 2018 upgrade of the station’s broadcast equipment and Transmitter, following some costly failures of equipment, dramatically improved MVFM’s signal quality and reach. MVFM is truly the Voice of the Community, offering the airwaves to local and regional non-profit groups and organisations. Its unique, eclectic and varied music programming – from classical and religious music on Sunday mornings to Country and Blues on Saturdays, gains local and regional audiences. MVFM has been central to the cultural growth of its community. Deloraine and neighbouring towns and villages have become performance destinations. All MVFM broadcasting is conducted by volunteers, with funds raised primarily by membership drives and Sponsorship sales. Although studios and offices are located in Deloraine, the MVFM community is better defined by the wide range of its signal, broadcasting from Gardner’s Ridge with signal equivalent to 5,000 watts, and by its unique and diverse programming. MVFM serves listeners throughout the Meander Valley from Kindred to Prospect and from the North Coast to the Great Western Tiers on 96.9 FM. MVFM is also available at www.mvfm.com.au in a live broadcast stream, 24 hours a day, to anywhere in the world. MVFM’s unduplicated weekly audience is estimated to be around 2000 individuals. The station operates through the generous assistance of more than 12 volunteers - including its 10 broadcasters. MVFM is the only community radio station in The Meander Valley Council area, broadcasting from its studio 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It serves as official information source for the Meander Valley Council in the local and surrounding communities
The Board must consider the local media environment and how it will affect MVFM’s future.
Factors to consider include:
MVFM’s online presence — website, program streaming — must be strengthened. User time spent with online radio is more than twice that spent with online video.
Online radio continues to have substantial growth.
The changing face of radio presents challenges and opportunities for MVFM that must be considered in developing strategic goals and priorities. While these changes in listening and thinking of radio are critically important, it is vital to focus also on the unique and special role that MVFM plays in its community.
With local programming not available anywhere else and direct, full time engagement with its listeners, MVFM provides significant appeal to Community organisations in the Meander Valley.
Competition is significant. As terrestrial broadcast declines as the most common means of radio distribution, it is likely that many radio stations will try to get their listeners to switch to online streaming. MVFM already promotes its mvfm.com.au option. Developing and maintaining MVFM’s online presence is strategically important as we move to the future.
MVFM will need to make decisions about allocating resources to terrestrial broadcast, the web stream, and the website. Online distribution of radio programming means that local stations will have to compete for listeners with national or international media sources, as well as with individual content providers. MVFM will need to find ways to convince listeners beyond its local community of the value of local programming and to engage them regardless of how they access MVFM. The changes described here have been relatively swift and certainly profound, leading to uncertainty about future changes that may be as significant. It is vitally important that MVFM think deeply and creatively about the future, or else we run the risk of being surprised and unprepared. The uncertainty of the future suggests that we must prepare for multiple possible futures, not just the one we expect to happen’
Many listeners and potential listeners mentioned signal problems. Restoring and maintaining the reach and strength of the signal is a priority strategic issue.
Broadcaster Training and Development Issues Personalized broadcaster training is needed, including reviewing announcements and PSAs for pronunciation before reading them on air, helping listeners with web streaming problems, and clarifying emergency requirements and listener expectations.
Broadcasters should reach out to the broader community in selecting interview subjects.
Broadcasters should remind listeners of the various ways they can listen to MVFM.
Marketing and Outreach
The website presents an under-achieving opportunity to communicate with our audience. The website is a valuable tool for posting information of broader interest to the community.
MVFM’s day to day programming, broadcaster backgrounds, playlists and record reviews are important and need to be posted regularly.
Changing Nature of Radio Technology
Public media have found that long-time users, listeners or viewers, are more likely to become members as they get older (and perhaps have more disposable income). MVFM needs to promote itself in venues with large numbers of potential new members
MVFM has an opportunity to capitalise on the value of providing a sense of community, and to provide information listeners can’t get elsewhere. It is important that the station respect a wide range of views, for example by not criticizing other media outlets or choices that listeners make to get news and entertainment.
Maintaining the station's independence and non-commercial character is essential. Members support the station for what it is - an independent non-commercial broadcast voice - as much as for what it does. Membership is mostly about having a relationship with MVFM. We must keep MVFM personal and continue to build personal listener relationships with the station. We must emphasize our local, values-based, non-corporate, non-commercial nature, while balancing this Meander Valley localism “Your Voice in The Valley” with our "community" throughout all its broadcast area.
MVFM needs to develop and strengthen services and information, including emergency broadcasts, for supporters who live outside the immediate Meander Valley area, expanding the sense of MVFM community in all its broadcast areas.