OneFM recognises volunteers at inaugural awards ceremony

By Tara Whitsed

Shepparton community radio station OneFM wrapped up the year with an inaugural awards ceremony.

Several volunteers were recognised for their efforts during the station’s annual Christmas party at Shepparton Golf Club on Sunday.

Among the recipients was Greek program presenter Sofia Spyropoulou, who was awarded with the ethnic presenter of the year.

Ms Spyropoulou came to Shepparton about four years ago, speaking very little English. She started presenting at OneFM about two years ago.

She was asked to take part after a friend discovered she could speak fluent Greek.

‘‘I’d never been into a radio station in my life,’’ she said.

But after teaching in a high school in Greece it did not take long for Ms Spyropoulou to learn the ropes at the station.

Her one-hour program used to consist of talking about a famous Greek person as well as playing their music.

After six months, Ms Spyropoulou changed things and started reading articles from local newspapers in Greek.

‘‘At the start I found it hard to be on my own in the studio,’’ she said.

‘‘It was a big opportunity and challenge for me.’’

She said the program had resonated well with the older Greek generation in the district who did not have access to things like YouTube to hear their language being spoken.

Listeners from as far as Bendigo would tune in each week to hear Ms Spyropoulou’s Wednesday night program.

Fellow presenter Terri Cowley said it would be sad to see Ms Spyropoulou move to Melbourne next year.

‘‘I’ve met so many beautiful people and improved my English,’’ Ms Spyropoulou said.

‘‘I would like to give a huge thank you to all these people who have felt like family to me.’’

Other awards presented included youth presenter of the year, which went to Joy Parnell, and best first-year presenter, which went to Matt Branagan.

Christine Parnell was awarded volunteer of the year and Terri Cowley received presenter of the year.