Monday, May 27, 2024

Amplifying Connection and Embracing Collaboration Through Volunteering at Mix 92.6 Community Radio


At Cisco, we often talk about the power of collaboration and connectivity. We design innovative solutions to bridge distances, bringing people and ideas closer together. We also believe in the power of giving back. My experience volunteering at Mix 92.6, a community radio station, has shown me first-hand how the spirit of collaboration brings communities together and transforms lives, including my own.  

Richard in a radio production room.

Mix 92.6 is a community radio station nestled in the heart of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, U.K. It serves as a beacon of connection and empowerment. Run 100% by volunteers and not for profit. When I first stepped into the studios several years ago, at the encouragement of the Cisco Leadership Pipeline Training Program I was part of at the time, I was struck by the passion and dedication of the volunteers who keep it running. The station’s mission is clear: To enhance the daily lives of all sections of the community in our area by providing news, information, and entertainment, sharing local stories, and fostering a sense of belonging among residents.

Whether coordinating a live broadcast, covering local elections, managing suppliers, or simply sharing stories from our community, I’ve witnessed the incredible synergy that arises when individuals come together for a common purpose. Just as we at Cisco harness technology to foster collaboration, Mix 92.6 uses the airwaves to bring people together, creating a shared space for voices to be heard. This was especially evident during COVID when we were a vital information source and a friendly voice for the housebound and lonely.

My role at Mix 92.6 started as a local news reporter and evolved into presenter, engineering support, and eventually, Board Director. It involves collaborating with diverse individuals, from presenters to engineers to grant providers and OFCOM — the U.K.’s communications regulator. We also implemented broadcast-from-home capabilities, expanded our coverage area, and rebranded during my time volunteering with the station. Just as in my role at Cisco, where I collaborate with colleagues from different departments to deliver innovative collaboration solutions for customers, I found myself working in a dynamic team at Mix 92.6, striving to create engaging content, coordinate interviews, and support the station’s day-to-day operations, connecting with residents in the community. My skills from my Cisco role really helped during COVID when we had to transition to digital tools, including Webex for meetings, interviews, and producing shows.

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Volunteering at Mix 92.6 has been a transformative experience in my life, both personally and professionally. The skills I’ve honed through my work at the station have proven invaluable in my role as lead of the Collaboration Demo Practice at Cisco. I have not only improved my own presentation skills but also learned new ways to coach others. Motivating volunteers is different from employees, but still requires understanding individual needs and passions to get the best results. Through that, I have had to get better at managing through influence, and it has allowed me to develop a deeper sense of empathy and a heightened awareness of the power of communication.

Selfie of Richard with a "Radio Verulam" truck.

Volunteering has expanded my network, connecting me with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This expanded network has not only enriched my personal life but has also broadened my horizons at Cisco, helping me approach problem-solving with fresh insights.

If you feel motivated to make a difference, here are some simple steps to begin your journey.

    1. There is something for everyone: Start by identifying a cause or organization that resonates with you. Whether it’s education, healthcare, environmental conservation, or something else entirely, there’s a volunteer opportunity that aligns with your interests. Explore your passions.
    2. Leverage Your Skills: My experience in Collaboration at Cisco has proven valuable at Mix 92.6. In addition, my educational background was in film & TV production and the creative arts. You may find your current skills well-suited for the opportunity, have acquired skills you can reawaken, or even have hidden talents waiting to be discovered.
    3. Make Time for Giving: It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of work that volunteer time slips away. That’s not the case at Cisco. It’s such a part of our culture that we’re encouraged to give back with initiatives like the Time2Give program, which provides 80 hours of paid time off in addition to our regular paid time off for volunteering.
    4. Embrace the Journey: Volunteering is not a one-way street. You’ll likely find that the experiences you gain will also benefit your career and personal life. It’s a journey of mutual growth and enrichment.
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Richard interviewing someone next to a small aircraft.

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