A NEW Jewish internet radio station has begun test programming and hopes to launch live content by the end of next month.
J-Air is run by Jewish Community Radio Victoria, a group affiliated with the umbrella organisation Jewish Broadcasting for the Community (JBC).
JBC convenor Sean Meltzer said J-Air aims to set up a permanent studio at the refurbished Beth Weizmann Community Centre. JBC has had a meeting with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and will be applying for an FM licence, although he acknowledges that winning a community FM spot can be a protracted process, with around eight applicants ahead of JBC on the waiting list.
The J-Air project is run by radio volunteers Aaron Zaitman, Robert Bontschek, Lucille Rogers and Greg Segal.
Meltzer described the internet project as "local, national and international, can be listened to on smart-phones as well as on computers at home, and car radios are already becoming available that are internet-enabled".
JBC, which has been endorsed by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, is looking for content providers from the Jewish community, and believes that an internet station "managed as a community-inclusive operation is a stepping stone to a future community radio licence".
At its monthly meeting on Monday night, JBC heard from several groups interested in a Jewish community radio licence, said Meltzer. "There was extensive and sometimes heated discussion about the current situation, and [about] the several groups apparently vying for the licence, technical requirements, studio facilities and content delivery.
"Due to the need to represent all the community, there has to be a framework of membership, voting rights, content delivery, disputes resolution and inclusiveness that meets the ACMA and Community Broadcasting Association of Australia guidelines."
Melbourne Jewish Radio, which operates Lion, is not part of the JBC project. It runs its own internet station and shares an extended AM frequency, not generally available on radios, with a Frankston-based special-interest station.
After a 12-month run, its community FM licence was not renewed last year. It is also believed to be in the hunt for an FM licence.