We’re back with another round of Positive Developments, this time with 4ZZZ Radio station manager, Stephen Stockwell.

Our Positive Developments project is in collaboration with Brisbane photographer, Stewart Munro and it shines a spotlight on Brisbane’s flourishing local music scene, one feature at a time.

For this instalment, we spoke to Stephen Stockwell about life during the pandemic, what it taught him about business and more. To read about what Stockwell discovered, check out the feature below.

What is one unexpected thing you have discovered about yourself as a result of the pandemic?

It turns out I enjoy time by myself more than I expected. I’d been living on the assumption that I was an extroverted person, which was certainly true when I was at uni, but when the world stopped and the timelessness of lockdown hit I learnt I don’t mind a bit of quiet reflection.

Since then I’ve gotten much better at slowing down now, thinking more creatively and working out what I actually enjoy doing. I’ve thought a lot about what I’d like to be doing over the last year and that reflection was one of the things that led to leave the national broadcaster for 4ZZZ.

What has this challenging time taught you in terms of business?

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That you’re only as good as the people around you. I wasn’t at 4ZZZ at the start of the pandemic, but I’ve been very close to the station for more than a decade. The vision and creativity of our sponsorship coordinator, Dominique Furphy, was priceless. She didn’t look to extract money from struggling businesses, she looked for ways to support the community (which included developing the Good Things in Strange Times Guide).

Our sponsorships aren’t just about making money to support 4ZZZ, they’re about supporting and platforming people and businesses who share the station’s values of creativity, independence, diversity and respect. My hope is that by supporting these groups we can play a role in building a stronger community which in turn can help support 4ZZZ.

What positives have come out of this situation?

Everyone’s world got a bit smaller. When everything got shut down people started looking around to their local community for support and found there were a lot of places and people there to help, including 4ZZZ. The station’s Brisbane focus meant people came to us for news, music and company, which has been reflected with a rise in subscribers over the last year.

The incredible work of our technical team, people like Patrick King and Ben Ryan, kept us on air with people safely broadcasting from home. This meant we were there for everyone. Something consistent and tangible during a really uncertain period.

While last year was a huge shock and required an outrageous amount of work to keep the station operational, the systems and partnerships we developed will hopefully serve us well into the future. What I hope is that the value people saw in 4ZZZ during last year, the platform we give to local music, to independent news and the wider community, will continue.

So far all the signs are really positive and it’s wonderful to see a resurgence in support for community radio.

Do you have any advice for music industry workers on how to tweak their business for COVID-19?

My advice would be to look around for mutually beneficial partnerships or opportunities. Reach out to people who are working in similar spaces or on complementary projects to see if there’s a way you can spread the load and share the risk.

4ZZZ is a huge team effort, not just from the station’s 250+ volunteers, but with all our subscribers, listeners and sponsors. We’re nothing without all of them. 4ZZZ has survived for more than 45 years by building and rebuilding these partnerships and they’ll be the thing that gets us through our next 45.

Anything you’d like to add?

Just that I would love nothing more than for anyone reading this to subscribe to 4ZZZ. We’re here to support the voices in Brisbane that don’t get heard in other places. We’ve been supporting local music for 45 years, independent news for just as long, but we can’t do that without the help of our subscribers.

Subscribing to the station makes you a member, it gives you a seat at the table to help us better reflect the world we’re living in. While 4ZZZ does get money from sponsor businesses, subscriptions are the station’s main source of income so we need your help to keep on keeping on.

For more on this topic, follow the Industry Observer.

Positive Developments: Stephen Stockwell of 4ZZZ Radio