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Community radio and country living – Meet Braidwood 94.5 FM

with Jill McLeod

Braidwood Community Radio (2BRW 94.5 FM) is now enjoying its twelfth year of operation. To understand the significance of community radio in the life of Australians generally, and in a small country town such as Braidwood, it is important to have a few facts and figures under our belts.

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA), the peak body, has 270 member stations, while a further group of smaller organisations service approximately 100 stations. There are over 20,000 volunteer broadcasters and support staff and a national listening audience of 5.2 million each week.

Adrian Basso, the President of the CBAA, made the following comment in August 2014 in the association’s magazine.

“When I wrote…last…it was just after the budget was released where we discovered community broadcasting was spared having its funding program ‘abolished’, as recommended by the Commission of Audit.”

He continued, “While our federal funding never has any guarantees…it was encouraging that the government chose to continue its many years of support. This is a credit… to the services we provide for 29% of Australians who tune in every week.”

Community television stations were not so fortunate and will only be licensed till the end of 2015.

As recently as 3 September community radio’s national current affairs program The Wire spoke with Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications, who stated that the Australian Government was supportive of community radio being part of a future digital radio framework.

Australian music shines on community airwaves

In turn, community radio throws its support behind Australian music, which it champions through CBAA’s Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP). Since September 2009, 39 percent of music aired on community radio is Australian, a 5 percent rise in the last five years, and 2,000 hours of Australian music is aired everyday nationwide.

AMRAP’s distribution arm serves 4,200 Australian musicians and 2,427 broadcasters from 287 community stations order music, amounting to 245,251 tracks, to include in their programming.

But let’s go back to Braidwood Community Radio (also known as the Barbed Wireless).

The station now reaches Captains Flat, Bungendore, Wakefield Park near Goulburn, down Clyde Mountain to Nelligen and, on occasions, Batemans Bay.

The inspiration and planning, handled with courage and conviction by Rob Davidson who continues as the volunteer Station Manager, started in 2001. 2BRW is a NFP incorporated association that adheres to the Community Radio Code of Practice.

The station began broadcasting in 20032 on Australia Day on a Test Broadcast License. The transmitter was located on the roof of the studio and the broadcast radius was 10 kilometres. On 1 May 2003, a Temporary Broadcast License was granted and on 25 January 2004, the transmitter was relocated to Mt. Gillamatong and transmission began on frequency 94.5 FM.

On 22 November 2004, a Permanent Broadcasting License was granted by the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

The broadcast radius now extends to over 50 kilometres. The station reaches Captains Flat, Bungendore, Wakefield Park near Goulburn, down Clyde Mountain to Nelligen and, on occasions, Batemans Bay.

Closer to home it can be enjoyed in the Gundillion, Nerriga, Mongarlowe and Majors Creek areas and there have been some reports of reception in Araluen.

The station’s modus operandi: finances come from individual and business memberships, donations, business sponsorship, and grants made available for equipment purchases.

Program content is varied but mostly music-based. The youngest presenter is 13 and the oldest is in her early 70s. The station arranges interviews either by phone or in studio and nationally recognised personalities, performing artists and pollies join presenters on a regular basis.

The station proudly boasts that two 2BRW volunteers have won Braidwood Australia Day Awards – Station Manager Rob Davidson in 2004 and technician Paul Brody in 2008. A long-time presenter received a Monaro medal in 2014 for service to community radio.

So tune in, arrange an interview, or have fun presenting on Braidwood Community Radio.

[The editor of the Bulletin also enjoyed a recent on-air chat with presenter (and our columnist) Jill McLeod, who contributes her time with twice weekly shows. Stay tuned for all the good music and interviews. We’ll be back with a book launch later in the year!]

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