Gemma Fordham talks new Little Fox station for kids in lockdown

Publisher & Content Director

Southern Cross Austereo has launched a new popup station for Victorian kids in lockdown.

Little Fox is the brainchild of Hit Network head Gemma Fordham, who says she was inspired by Nigeria’s use of radio frequencies to educate children during the unfolding global health crisis.

“I went into a deep-dive after reading an article about it and discovered they are actually doing a similar thing in parts of Africa over the last few months,” Fordham told Radio Today.

“Having been a parent who homeschooled during the lockdown in Sydney, it was the hardest thing I have done. I can run a radio network, but homeschooling is where I have to tap out.

“Our brilliant team turned it around in five days, it shows just how agile radio can be.”

Little Fox offers daily fun facts, mini-lessons, book readings and light relief for kids and parents. Fox FM’s Brendan Fevola even appears with regular dad jokes.

There’s no commercial model behind the initiative, it’s ad-free and programmed with kid-friendly content and music. There’s also a 24-hour shoutout line, where listeners can request songs.

Fordham handballed the idea for Little Fox, including the name, to three trusted executives tasked with bringing the idea to life so she could focus on the Hit Network rebrand.

Fox FM’s assistant content director, James Speed, the station’s mornings announcer, Tim Lee, and the Hit Network’s national operations manager, Mathew Eggleston, set to work.

“The team did an amazing job turning it around when I dropped it on them. I did a best-case scenario with Speedy, Eggo and Tim, who have done an incredible job.”

Even news is covered. 12-year-old wunderkind Leonardo Puglisi, tipped by some television executives to be “the next Karl Stefanovic”, has joined Little Fox as the station’s newsreader.

“It needed to be somewhere that parents feel absolutely confident and safe,” Fordham explains. “It needs to entertain. But it also needs to educate. We’re updating the content every day.

“I just felt like we had a responsibility to do something and that probably came from being a parent myself. We have all these amazing tools and assets available to us at SCA.

“All of our talent inhouse loved the idea and got so behind it, they saw the merit in it, so hopefully now we’ve also started to foster this very young generation of Fox listeners.”

Little Fox is available now on the Hit App, DAB+, on your smart speaker or via fox.com.au.

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