Radio broadcasting in Bangla in Canberra

Radio broadcasting in Bangla in Canberra

CANBERRA is the capital of Australia although Sydney and Melbourne, being much larger, get far more publicity. The city was planned by the American architect Walter Burley Griffin, following a competition in 1912 and now has a population of about 320,000. Australia is divided into states and territories, based on the population at the time of the formation of Australia by the federation of separate British colonies in 1901. Canberra, in addition to being the capital of Australia, is the main city in the Australian Capital Territory, which is commonly abbreviated as the ACT. There are thus two levels of government in Canberra: the territory level and the federal level.

All the major cities in Australia contain people from different countries and Canberra is no exception. Many different languages can be heard in the streets. People who speak Bangla as their mother tongue probably account for about 2,000 people and of these perhaps half are students who are only here for a short period of time. Multiculturalism is supported by all sides of politics as long as it helps to promote overall harmony across Australian society. This encouragement takes many forms such as the promotion and funding of festivals, language and religious schools and broadcasting in languages other than English. Bangla Radio Canberra is one beneficiary of such encouragement. There is also a long-running Bangla School which operates on Sundays.

Bangla Radio Canberra started in 1999 when the founder of Bangla Radio Canberra, Ehsanullah, learnt that the ACT government provided funds for community broadcasting in languages other than English. This information prompted the Bangladesh Australia Association Canberra, which is a registered community organisation, to apply for funds for broadcasting in Bangla and Bangla Radio was born. Ehsanullah, fired with creative enthusiasm, sought out others with similar interests from the Bangladeshis in Canberra. The enthusiasts, amateurs all without any experience in broadcasting, were organised into teams of three and four and weekly programmes of 30 minutes were produced by the teams in rotation. The programmes were broadcast by using the facilities of Radio 2XX, a local community radio station that is run almost entirely by volunteers. The costs of using radio facilities were met by grants from the ACT government and the federal government. When Bangla Radio Canberra started, the programmes could only be heard within Canberra and had to be heard live. In many ways this was an advantage as many slip-ups were made by the budding broadcasters.

After the first two years, it was noticed that the volunteer broadcasters had become considerably fewer in number. At the same time, the volunteers had also increased in competence so the teams were replaced by individuals for weekly programmes in Bangla. A little later, the first Bangla internet website in Canberra, PriyoAustralia, was set up by Shahadat Manik, a computer professional with interests in the arts. He was crucial in the development of a web presence for Bangla Radio Canberra and initially the radio programmes were hosted on the PriyoAustralia website.

Bangla Radio Canberra completed 11 years of continuous weekly broadcasting at the end of June this year. It still broadcasts weekly for half an hour on Mondays from the local radio station 2XX. Since 2005, Bangla Radio Canberra programs have been archived on the internet ( and a rich variety of material is available as internet files which can be listened to at will. For example, programmes available include (but are not restricted to) reflections on expatriate life in Australia, discussions and interviews on historical, social and political issues in Bangladesh, radio-plays, coverage of events in Canberra, science issues related to Bangladesh, lives of famous people from our region and issues related to immigration to Australia. Recently, it has also started airing segments recorded and produced in Dhaka. This allows the listener to feel as if they are physically in Bangladesh.

Many people have contributed to the success of Bangla Radio. One of the reasons for its success and longevity is that the programmes are still produced by a panel of enthusiasts who take it in turns to have responsibility for producing the programme. This devolves both creative freedom and responsibility every week to a different producer who is free to pursue any topic of interest. The single restriction is that no Australian laws are contravened. The support of the Australian government, at both federal and territory levels, in promoting multiculturalism is of course another crucial factor in this success.

It would be remiss to give the impression that Bangla Radio Canberra is the only Bangla radio station in Australia which broadcasts programmes produced by Bangladeshi-Australians. There are many others. However, in contrast to Bangla Radio Canberra, none of these stations appear to have archived their broadcasts, although material from the last six weeks can be accessed at Brisbane Bangla Radio ( In addition, the Australian Federal government also directly supports the provision of Bangla programs within Australia through the Special Broadcasting Service, SBS.

Bangla Radio Canberra is always ready to consider (unpaid) written or audio material for broadcasting. The people associated with the radio can be contacted on Bangla Radio Canberra is waiting for your visits ( and comments.

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  1. Kazal
    Kazal 10 January, 2018, 05:01

    This is really an impressive reporting. Good persons think of community as a whole. Best wishes for all of them.

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