OKR FM’s Tony Wertz, left, with Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland, Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell, and OKR FM volunteer Ruth Wertz. ​

OKR FM had its first visit by a federal minister on Thursday, with Federal Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland stopping by the Kilmore-based station.

Ms Rowland and Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell, joined Brunch Thursday show, discussing topics including NBN upgrades, inflation and artificial intelligence with host Tony Wertz.

Mr Wertz said it was important the minister visited grassroots community broadcast stations.

“We’re very grassroots. We’d be right at the very end of the list as far as space and equipment goes and it’s great for the minister to get out and see us,” he said.

“She knows what the bigger community stations are like in Sydney and Melbourne, but to get out to grassroots community radio is important because it encourages the government to keep wanting to fund us.

“It’s important because the Community Broadcasting Foundation is funded by the government and it’s important they see exactly how the money they put into the community broadcasting sector is working at all levels.”

OKR FM representatives and the politicians also discussed community broadcasting.

“Community broadcasting is absolutely an essential part of the ecosystem and we invested in our first Budget some $20 million in community broadcasting,” Ms Rowland said.

“The first Bill I actually presented to Parliament as minister was streamlining arrangements to community broadcasting. We’re also looking at the sustainability of the sector because we know that while you serve such a great purpose and you’ve got volunteers and sponsors, it is still challenging.

“Community broadcasting will always be important to the Albanese Government, particularly in regional areas and I make the point that community broadcasting is really doing the heavy lifting when it comes to media diversity.”

Mr Wertz said OKR FM stood out by keeping listeners informed and promoting local activities to bring the community together.

“It’s the things that interest the community that there’s no other access to and we’re pretty proud,” he said.

“We’re thankful for the support we get from the Community Broadcasting Foundation and the Federal Government, and we’re pretty proud of what we achieve in being able to bring areas of news that wouldn’t make the airways.”

OKR FM is always looking for volunteers to keep local people on the airwaves.

“We’re always looking for new people whether they want to host a show, learn to use the equipment or just volunteer,” Mr Wertz said.

People interested can email secretary@okrfm.com.au.