Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Smithfield High School's community radio reaches out

Despite serious concerns from the public and numerous regulatory interventions by the ACMA of Cairns community radio over the last year, another community radio station in stark contrast, is striving ahead to actively involve their local community.

Cairns Coast FM 101.9, based at Smithfield High School on the the northern beaches, is going through a resurgence.

Formed over ten years ago with the support of then MP Warren Entsch, the station is one of the very few school-based youth radio stations in Australia. With the support of principal Barry Courtney, media studies and business teacher Bec Selsby, says the station is really moving ahead.

"We are making big decisions about the future of CoastFM," Bec Selsby says.
"Over the next few months, there's a number of activities to involve the community."

With a polling booth operating at the school, on election day, Coast FM will have a fundraiser to promote the community radio. They're be selling drinks, with entertainment by the school band.

From August 23rd to 27th, a 'Get into CoastFM' promotion will be held.

"This will take place during lunch hours and is aimed at getting students back involved in the radio station," Bec Selby says. "The radio crew will be broadcasting live throughout lunches and students are invited to come into the station, have a look around, record their voices in sweepers, enter competitions and give us some feedback on what they like or don’t like, about CoastFM."

Bec Selby, who has invested many years in the school-based community radio, and rescued it a year ago when interest waned, is now pleased there are a good number of students participating in the programme.

"It is hoped that we can drum up a greater interest within the school before tackling the rest of the community," Selby says.

The folk at Coast FM are well aware of the many problems facing Cairns Community Radio, and are careful to not mirror errors that have dogged them. They remain focused on improving and growing their support base and opening the station up to the wider community.

On 27th August, we will have a live broadcast to promote a science expo, that will be held on Smithfield High's front oval. Science at Smithfield will involve James Cook University education students, creating a science fair for year 7 students from Trinity Beach State School, with CoastFM crew undertaking interviews with participants.

A radio training course, run in association with Cairns Regional Council's community partnership programme, is planned for October. Former Smithfield student turned sound-technician, Will Coe, will facilitate the programme. He credits his involvement with Coast FM as a student, setting up his own business.

It is one of the many success stories of a wonderful community asset. It's a crime that the other beleaguered community radio, 4CCR 89.1 FM, who have not allowed one new member join since last September, doesn't know the meaning of welcoming new members. They have spent what some estimate close to $40,000 with O'Reilly Stevens Bovey Lawyers, in fighting 16 new member applications since January, and a number of membership terminations. They could really learn a great deal from a bunch of students, just up the road.


KFC said...

Coast FM d should put a bid in for the transmitter site on Mt Yarrabah which was built by many volunteers including myself committed in their belief in community radio, but currently owned(leased?) by the former 'community' radio station 4CCR (now apparently a government funded closed private middle aged person's radio club). They would then be able to utilise a more powerful transmitter so the people of Cairns can be reminded once again what real community radio is all about.
Strangely enough, I also remember the aspirant station being around long before Entsch came on the scene.

spangled lady said...

Well said KFC -it is strange that not more people in the Cairns community seem worried at the flagrant abuse of power and community money taking place at Cairns FM89.1 4CCR! A community radio plays such an active part in other much smaller towns across the country -it is the only real place where anyone can have a go and keep the community informed on all sorts of diverse matters that the big boys are not interested in -how much of current local radio is really local? Not much I think.
It is time for the populace to rise up and reclaim Community Radio for all the Cairns community not just the greedy few!