Augusta FM Radio Inc trading as 2oceansFM – Augusta Community Radio is a not-for-profit organisation supported by volunteers, members and sponsors for our local community.
The story so far………
The concept came about as a result of the frustration with the lack of local content on the very few radio stations broadcasting to the Augusta region. At the time, our local ABC originated from Karratha , approximately 1500kms north of Augusta on the Pilbara coast.
Russell Simpson, the then Coordinator of the Augusta Community Resource Centre first made contact with the Australian Broadcasting Authority in 2002 to find out more about allocation of FM frequencies and the processes to make application for a Broadcast Licence.
He ran into a brick wall, all the frequencies were being used by GWN, a regional TV station broadcasting from Bunbury and any radio signal broadcasting within those frequencies would cause interference with TV reception.
Augusta did not appear on the list of potential sites, although there was a frequency available on the AM Band with a site just north of Margaret River, if we carried out an engineering check to find a frequency, it would cost $30,000. That would mean either having the studios in Margaret River, or pay for an expensive land line connection from Augusta.
Having been heavily involved in getting the re transmission of GWN via satellite from Osnaburg Street, Russell knew that GWN never officially broadcast into the Augusta/Karridale region, in fact, a check of the ABA list of broadcasters confirmed that fact. Their signal, according to their own broadcast plan stopped somewhere between Margaret River and Witchcliffe.
Not to be put off, Russell registered the name ‘Augusta Community Radio’ and spent the next few years researching other radio stations and intermittently calling the ABA and subsequently the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to see if anything had changed, all to no avail.
In 2007 at the business planning workshop of the Augusta Community Resource Centre, establishing a community radio station for the Augusta region was identified as one of its primary goals for the coming year.
A sub-committee of local enthusiasts was quickly formed and the process began of officially applying for a Temporary Broadcast Licence. Letters of support were obtained from the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, South West Development Commission, Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association, Augusta and Karridale Primary Schools, Lions Club of Leeuwin, Augusta Community Development Association and other community groups in the area.
The application forms were downloaded and the slow task of preparing an application began. Contact was made with Mike Ryan a sound engineer who lives in Perth and he conducted a comprehensive investigation into the use and availability of FM frequencies in the Augusta area. He confirmed what Russell had always suspected and also identified a frequency of 99.9MHz that would be suitable for a community radio station.
It took several months to prepare our application and finally it was sent off by certified mail in late 2007. At the same time, applications for funding were submitted to the South West Development Commission, followed by Lotterywest.
We have been really fortunate in acquiring funding from the Jack & Lena Ryall Bequest, they were a local couple who bequeathed a considerable amount of money to the Augusta Community.
In April 2008, ACMA notified us that our application had been passed on to their engineering branch in Canberra, some weeks later we were informed that a frequency of 97.1MHz had been identified as their preferred option and public submission period would be advertised in the local papers. The submission period closed on the 27th June.
It must be mentioned here that Mike conducted the investigation for no charge, his advice has been invaluable and his official report has probably been the biggest single factor in getting ACMA to agree to the allocation of a frequency of 97.1MHz for a community radio station in Augusta.
ACMA informed us that it would take up to 12 weeks for a final decision on our application and sure enough, on the 26th September 2008, 12 weeks almost to the day, we were given the great news that we had been given a Temporary Broadcast Licence.
After discussion with ACMA about when the licence period should begin, the 1st of February 2009 was the preferred date, this would give us a chance to buy and install the equipment and most importantly, to train ourselves in putting together programmes and operating the deck.
During this time the steering committee continued to meet and put together strategies for the future and most importantly, continue fundraising.
On October 16th 2008 we received a cheque for $15,000 from a local bequest. Jack & Lena Ryall, a couple who lived in Augusta most of their lives and really loved the area left their entire estate to the Augusta community. It was to be spent on projects that would benefit the community as a whole.
On October 19th 2008, Lotterywest informed us that we had been successful in obtaining a $10,000 grant to buy equipment for the radio station.
On October 22nd 2008, the South West Development Commission granted us $20,000 to assist us to buy equipment.
October 2008 was a really great month in the short life of Augusta Community Radio.