Instead, it took some extra time, determination, vision, community commitment and even the stimulus of an important occasion, such as  the 65th anniversary of the Italo-Australian Welfare and Cultural Centre (IAWCC) in Perth, to see the return of Rete Italia.

The radio station – which, together with Il Globo and La Fiamma, forms the Italian Media Corporation – will return to Perth from Monday, March 1.

It took the tireless work and foresight of the president of the Italo- Australian Welfare and Cultural Centre (IAWCC), Enzo Sirna AM, as well as the enthusiasm of the centre’s committee, which supported a community-commercial partnership to bring Rete Italia back to Perth.

During a phone interview, Sirna said the partnership is a “template” that could be used by others to either introduce or bring back Rete Italia to other cities and regional areas where there is a large Italian population.

Above all, it took the strong will of our publishing group, which has always made community service the cornerstone of all of its initiatives.

We are aware of the importance of radio with its immediacy and pride ourselves on offering tens of thousands of Italo-Australians an extra friend in their homes.

Sirna has been at the helm of the IAWCC for years, and among his many other important community commitments, he is the director of corporate services at the National Trust of Western Australia.

He said the partnership with Rete Italia was extremely well received when he proposed it during a community meeting last December, in front of a large audience of entrepreneurs, representatives of associations and the Italian Consul General in Perth Nicolò Costantini, as well as several MPs.

The initiative is the perfect addition to the services already offered by the IAWCC, especially in the fields of aged care and the promotion of Italian language studies.

Sirna highlighted the progress made in the latter area, after Italian studies faced several challenges due to the push for Asian languages across the state (which is now slightly less alarming).

“We have more than 11,000 children who study Italian at primary school and we are trying to introduce more courses in secondary schools to provide continuity across the entire school system,” he said.

The government has already guaranteed funding for the next three years, and the goal is to promote Italian studies right up until a tertiary level.

Sirna emphasised the need to help people understand the importance of subjects that are not the always the “favourites” (such as science or maths) in terms of entry to university.

The return of Rete Italia to Western Australia could also help in this field, as the radio station hopes to act as a “spokesperson” for the Italian community in Perth.

The partnership between the IAWCC and the Italian Media Corporation will only continue to grow, as has already happened with a similar community project that led to the return of Rete Italia to Wollongong, with the involvement of the corporate world to achieve a gradual expansion of local content.

Sirna said there will be a focus on community news in order to promote events and activities that concern the Italian community at all levels.

The initial phase of the imminent return of broadcasts will be accompanied by a promotional campaign to “activate” the community and introduce the idea of digital radio.

“Listeners will need to get used to the idea of the changed world of communication techniques,” Sirna said.

Rete Italia has been broadcasting with the DAB + system for several months now in both Melbourne and Sydney.

The advanced technology plays the highest quality sound possible and provides an enhanced listening experience. 

However, listeners will require a compatible radio in order to tune in – DAB+ radio enabled devices can be purchased from a low price at any electronics store or from Negozio Italia, as advertised in this newspaper.

Tuning is easier as stations are identified by name rather than frequency (in the case of Rete Italia, Niche Radio), and the device always remains perfectly tuned to the program, giving listeners a crystal-clear sound.

“Perhaps the most difficult part will be getting people to understand they need a [specific] radio to receive digital broadcasts,” Sirna said.

“It will be important to overcome this aspect, to help everyone start listening and then, gradually, we will be able to strengthen all the other aspects of the project.”

IAWCC is also preparing for another integral part of the initiative: to equip itself with a studio for local broadcasts.

The studio will essentially become the physical headquarters of Rete Italia in Perth.

“It will take some time, but this development is a key strategy of the project,” Sirna said, adding that it is part of the celebrations that will take place in 2021 to celebrate a historic anniversary that highlights the importance of the IAWCC for the community, and its constant growth that has contributed – and continues to contribute to – the successful integration of all Italians into Australian society.

Rete Italia in Perth will also be aimed at young people who have recently arrived from Italy, providing an opportunity for them to benefit from an unparalleled community service and allowing them become an active part of a community that remains alive and vital.

Radio is immediacy, direct participation, information and entertainment.

It’s a friend that will always keep you company.