Story by: Mike Austin
Photographer: Tanya Wilson
Published in: THE ADVOCATE (Tuesday April 16, 2002 Edition)

TELSTRA statistics suggest western radio station Stereo 974 has a colossal grassroots audience for its Vietnamese-language broadcasts.

For two months in a row, more than 7300 people tried to phone Vietnamese broadcasters Viet Quo Tran, of Footscray; Dinh Nguyen, of Sunshine and Lam Tich Nguyen, of St. Albans.
They were unable to do so – because the switchboard was already jammed with eager callers.

Station general manager Rod Boyd said the peak listening times were talkback programs on Thursdays and Sundays.
Telstra’s figures record the number of callers who heard the ‘line busy’ tone when they phoned the station, because the three rotary lines connecting with the studios were all engaged at the time. “That means that for each busy tone, there are three callers already talking to the broadcasters.” Mr Boyd said.

From January 5 to February 5, Telstra recorded 7346 busy calls, with the total rising to 7390 from February 6 to Marc 6.

“These numbers speak for themselves,” said Mr Boyd. “They amount to a magnificent tribute to our Vietnamese broadcasters’ ability to give the community what it wants. “Viet, Dinh and Lam are unpaid volunteers.

“They built up the Stereo 974 Vietnamese service themselves and they learned their broadcasting skills here. They are committed grassroots broadcasters in the very finest sense of the word.

“The western region community should be proud of them,” he said.
Mr Boyd said he saw Telstra’s figures as indicating a large audience among the nearly 100,000 Vietnamese-speaking people of the western region, but was cautious about estimating how large it was on the basis of this data alone.

“A rule of thumb in commercial broadcasting is that one phone call equals 3000 listeners. “I mention this only as a point of interest – it is a formula for arriving at ballpark figures, but I am not basing any claims on it,” he said.