Braidwood’s Community-owned Radio Station
Written by Gordon Waters on June 15, 2021
On Australia Day 2003 Braidwood FM began broadcasting on a temporary licence from the roof of its studio in Wallace Street; the premises generously provided by Denver and Phil Shoemark at no cost to the radio. Its broadcast radius was 10km around Braidwood.
In November 2004 Braidwood FM was granted a Permanent Licence and began broadcasting from Mt.Gillamatong on 100watts, with a broadcast radius (depending on geography, of up to 50 kms around Braidwood.
Those early days would not have been possible had it not been for the vision and passion of the small team who ran the station, and the generosity of the community and their support, both financially and in providing services to the station.
Community radio stations are Incorporated Associations and rely on support from their communities to exist and to grow, and the community of Braidwood has been a generous supporter of their very own radio station since its beginnings.
As an Incorporated Association, and a not-for-profit group, the radio’s assets are not owned by any person or group. All the station’s assets (building, equipment, outside broadcast caravan etc) are assets owned by the community, and managed by Braidwood FM Inc.
In 2014 plans were made to relocate the radio station to more accessible premises and agreement was reached between Braidwood FM and the Braidwood Servicemen’s Club to relocate the radio behind the squash courts at the Club.
Over the next 2 years funds were raised to cover the estimated $85,000 cost to have Mordek in Moruya to construct and transport a purpose-built portable building, which could be located at the Club. It was made to be a portable building in case in some future time it needed to be relocated in order for the radio to grow and expand as the Club site space was limited.
Funds came from many sources: Braidwood Community Bank provided a grant of $37,000; Veolia Mulwaree provided $22,000; the NSW Goverment (John Barilaro) through the Community Building Patnerships Grant provided $12,400; Braidwood Lions donated $2,000; Southern Phone donated $5,000 to build the ramps and railings; and many individuals and businesses in Braidwood donated funds to the project.
Many tradespeople around Braidwood donated their services to install the electrical (Wayne Merriman), plumbing (Brian Kain), the piers the building stands on (Stephen Orford), building and installation of the ramps (Paul Henry), while still others donated their time to establish and maintain gardens around the building.
Braidwood FM came to the forefront during the 2019/20 bushfires, and was an invaluable source of localised information to the community, and the community showed its appreciation to the volunteers of the radio who manned the airwaves on rotation shifts for many weeks, giving hourly updates by speaking directly with the RFS about very specific areas.
Only a few months before the bushfires Braidwood FM was approved by the ACMA to increase its transmission power from 100watts to 2,000watts, which was invaluable when the bushfires came. There were still some ‘black spots’ where our transmissions couldn’t reach and we are in the process of trying to rectify that situation.
If you would like to be a volunteer with Braidwood FM, we are always on the lookout for people who would like to assist. You might want to;
- be a presenter on air, and we provide full training at no cost to you;
- maintain our gardens;
- learn the technical side of the radio;
- go to outside broadcasts and speak with people about the radio as they pass by;
- promote and encourage people to become ‘members’ of the radio; or
- maybe you have skills you think you could use to help the station grow.
If you would like to offer your services as a volunteer, we are looking for people of all ages, and you should contact Gordon Waters on 0422 921 269 or [email protected]
2021 is Braidwood FM’s 19th year of continuous broadcasting and it has all been made possible by the generosity and support of the people of Braidwood and the surrounding region.
Be proud, all of you, as you have a wonderful and important community-owned asset that you can be proud of, and Braidwood FM volunteers look forward to providing the region with many more years of service.