Small Grants for Rural Communities
Warrumbungles Community Broadcasting Association, better known as WAR FM, is a community radio station in western NSW.
The station and its mobile broadcast van is an important community asset, broadcasting at least 80 hours of community radio per week. Gilgandra, an agricultural region, was affected by the NSW bushfires in January 2013. During these kinds of emergencies the mobile broadcasting van is utilised by the local Council, SES and Red Cross to provide up-to-date information for residents.
The van is also offered as a free service to the Gilgandra community for events. Randall Medd, Economic Development Manager, Gilgandra Shire Council wrote in a letter of support for the project:
“This (the van) has improved promotion of the events throughout the listening area and also allows the elderly and people with mobility issues to listen from home, keeping them engaged in the community.”
However, while the service was invaluable to the small community, the tripod aerial mast was extremely heavy and required an extra vehicle for transport to the site and ‘two hefty men’ to assemble it for outdoor broadcasting. The WAR FM team's capabilities were being limited by this need for extra muscle every time.
The group applied to FRRR for a Small Grant of $4,035 to purchase a pneumatic mast and aerial to ease volunteer workload, and increase the number of events they could attend. The new mast takes just minutes to set up, rather than hours, making a considerable reduction in the time taken to start location broadcasts in times of emergency, increasing disaster preparedness and preventing volunteer fatigue.
The project also enhanced community connectedness in true Aussie fashion with AFL broadcasts! The aerial and mast were installed in time for a live broadcast to Coonamble, Gilgandra, Coonabarabran and Dunedoo Community Stations of the Final, Semi Final and Grand Final Football matches held in each of those towns. The station’s programs are also streamed on the internet and a group of Gilgandra travellers even listened to the matches from Alice Springs.
WAR FM said: "The feedback from listeners was tremendous.” This equipment upgrade will be helping to keep community spirit alive and well, bringing benefits to the Gilgandra locals for years to come.