Goldfields FM is a community radio station servicing the Central Goldfields of Victoria. The radio station broadcasts from Maryborough and the signal reaches some thirty kilometres into the local area around Maryborough. Goldfields FM began broadcasting in January 2007 and this was the result of a long journey by a group of dedicated volunteers under the Strengthening Goldfields Community banner. From the beginnings of an idea in 1999, with many trials and tribulations but with unwavering community support, the station finally went to air. Much of the considerable community support for Goldfields FM no doubt rose from the ashes of the loss to the community of a well known local station, which was the original commercial radio station in the Central Goldfields before it was moved to Bendigo. Many Central Goldfields residents see Goldfields FM as a long-awaited return of a local radio presence in the area, and are very strong supporters of Goldfields FM. Goldfields FM has a Board of Management and a well-defined management team which will ensure continuing development and success. It has a growing membership and is developing a broadening family of supporters and sponsors. At present there are around fifty presenters and other station volunteers involved in broadcasting a quality and varied grid of programs to the Central Goldfields, twenty four hours a day. Goldfields FM uses state-of-the-art equipment to produce and broadcast sponsorship announcements, program material, local news bulletins and community announcements as well as other material used in programs. This is supplemented by a computer network and a purpose-built on-air studio with twin CD players and a mini-disk player. All presenters are well trained to use all the available equipment to produce and broadcast the best quality program they can. Goldfields FM broadcasts a wide range of music and other programs to its listening audience using presenters aged from twelve years to those well into their third age. Live transmission most days begins at 7.30 am with a breakfast show followed by Morning Shows, Lunchtime Lives, and other shows with a wide array of genres, with music for the younger generation after 4 pm. These programs reflect the results of surveys of the potential listening audience which were collected during the station’s formative years. Community Hours are broadcast each weekday afternoon with daily interviews of community members. These focus on community groups and schools in the Central Goldfields. These Community Hours are supplemented by community service announcements throughout the day. The program grid includes a wide range of programs. Some of the other genres and programs covered include country music, blues, folk music, era-based programs such as 60s to 80s, religious shows, computer shows, horse shows, local news, local sport and national news and weather.
In The Beginning …
In 1999 the Strengthening Goldfields Community committee considered the possibility of establishing a community radio station in Maryborough to service the Central Goldfields area and provide radio coverage from a local station once again. A committee was formed and initially had considerable public support. However the search for an appropriate site and obtaining funds for equipment proved to be very difficult obstacles at the time. In 2003 the committee was reactivated with a renewed determination to succeed. Suitable premises were acquired at nominal rental and a community radio licence was applied for. After much negotiation with the authorities we were advised of our success in gaining a Temporary Community Broadcasting Licence (TCBL). In less than a month more than $30,000 in cash and kind was raised in the local community. This included funds from the Central Goldfields Shire Council, several service clubs and from individuals. Construction of the station began on 15 December 2006 with the first test broadcast on 31 January 2007. In just twelve months we achieved a standard envied by other community radio stations that have been in existence for much longer periods. Goldfields FM 99.1 set out to transmit across the catchment area of the Central Goldfields Shire, a range of approximately thirty kilometres, with a power output of 250 watts. The response from the local community to date has been outstanding with more than 200 station members and a number of sponsors signed on 12 month contracts. We are particularly impressed with the response from young people. If ratings can be determined by positive comments from the public, and high numbers of telephone calls praising shows and making requests for songs or “cheerios” then the station is going to be a winner. And all this after only twelve months of operation!
As we accumulate funds we hope to conduct outside broadcasts of sporting and community activities, and then to cover activities for specific sponsors. We propose to incorporate sections of the Media Studies programs of local schools in our programming schedule. Goldfields FM is a community radio station and, as is fitting, all the people involved are volunteers. We have also been fortunate enough to gain many people — board members, managers, volunteers and presenters — with considerable experience in many facets of running a community radio station. Goldfields 99.1 FM is a station that is going places: it is more than just a useful link to the local community.