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General Managers Report

Western Radio Broadcasters Inc is a Community Not For Profit Incorporated Association, staffed by Volunteers.

First and foremost, we are “by the community, for the community”. We operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and provide what we believe is a high standard of broadcasting to an extremely diverse cultural and linguistic audience within our community.

We have over many years progressed, from broadcasting in a shipping container in a vacant paddock to our current state of the art studios, which are situated on a 24 hour physical security site at, Brooklyn. This security not only secures our equipment and facilities, but also safeguards the wellbeing and safety of our numerous volunteers and their vehicles.

The studies are fully air conditioned, and we vigorously uphold Occupational and Safety Standards. We have created a team environment whereby our volunteers are extremely cohesive, but readily accept new volunteers into the Association, and everyone is made to feel welcome. One the greatest complements that we have received is when visitors attend at the studios they say “what a warm friendly environment”. Likewise our Main Transmitter is located at TIC Group Pty Ltd, Sunshine Road Tottenham. Without the support of both Powercor, TIC Pty Ltd in providing accommodation for our facilities, we would find it extremely difficult.

We are extremely proud of the numerous awards that we have received from Government bodies and instrumentalities; emergency services; cultural associations and groups, and numerous other organisations. In the past when the Centenary of Federation medals were being awarded, two of our Vietnamese announcers received them for “Service to the Vietnamese community via community radio”. Likewise STEREO 974, has received numerous Multicultural Awards for our work with the Multicultural Community in our broadcast area and beyond.

As an example of what we are all about and working with the community, was the formation of an alliance between this radio station and Western Health, whereby we are now programmed into, and listened to via the Patient Television sets at Western Hospital Footscray, Western Hospital Sunshine, Williamstown Hospital and various other units under the control of Western Health Likewise the important role that we play re Emergency Response Broadcasting, and that we are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week on call out should the need arise. This in itself is no mean feat, and in the past we have been called on and have responded immediately. This Emergency Response Broadcasting role is practised monthly. Some years ago we signed an M.O.U. with the Victorian State Government, officially recognising us as the Emergency Response Broadcaster for the area West and North of Melbourne.
The list of not-for-profit organisations, associations and the like that we work closely with is too long to even try to detail. These are the people that rely on us for the dissemination of information to not only English speaking community members, but also Ethnic speaking community members. We like to think of this radio station as “the Hub” where this information radiates from. The Newsletter of the Air – Waves.

We have a cohesive Committee of Management where everyone works towards the betterment of this radio station. Likewise the other sub-committees are all focussed on this as well. You would be well aware that this radio station has been on the air 24 hours a day 7 days a week since 1978, which is a considerable time, and that we have the relevant management practice in place and operate at all times as a democratic community Association.
We are extremely fortunate to have the business acumen that is on our Committee of Management. This coupled with our focus on providing and assisting the community with access to the airwaves makes this radio station unique. As with any other organisation, financial management is critical, and the proof is already there in the fact that we have assets to the value of over $500,000.

At all times we try to assist other community broadcasters and have done on numerous occasions in the past by the loan of equipment when they have equipment failure and the like.

We would like to assure you that this radio station at all times endeavours to comply with not only the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Community Radio Codes of Practice, but to uphold the principles of volunteerism. We are about nurturing and capitalising on the talents of our many varied volunteers, and at the end of the day the coming together of a cohesive community in itself. As an example of this, this radio station has nurtured volunteer talent that has moved on and made a career in commercial radio. Recently Ashley Chua joined 3MMM Melbourne on their football commentary team. Previously Ashley had been one of our football callers and announcers. Michael Sinclair, another volunteer at this station, is now with HSV7 sports. Mark Stone is now heard on SEN1116. Ralph Barba has joined SEN1116. Pat Panetta is with 3AW, and the list goes on.

We are extremely fortunate to have Bob Taylor, conducting all our Training. Bob has over 60 years of Radio experience and in fact up until retirement conducted the Announcers Academy in Melbourne for many years, as well as being keenly sought after as a Voice Coach by the Major Commercial Media Outlets. This is viewed very favourably here, and we feel reflects on our training and the fact that we nurture and give the opportunity to volunteers who want to go further and enter the mainstream media. This is something we believe very strongly in, and is what community broadcasting is all about – “giving someone a go”.

We are actively working with the Young Offenders Unit at Port Phillip Prison conducting a Small Business Program. This Program is encouraging Young Offenders to consider long term planning re integration back into the Community, the business screen prints T Shirts, and to date some $150,000-00 has been donated to Charities such as Kids Under Cover, Royal Children’s Hospital and the list goes on. This work is carried out on a voluntary basis.
You will note that we carry out a considerable aggregate of Vietnamese programs. This has been brought about by recognising an emerging community in the western suburbs of Melbourne. The Vietnamese community are great supporters of this radio station, and we believed are starved for information and entertainment. Hence we work very closely, as we do with all communities, with the Vietnamese community. You will notice that this reflects on other Ethnic programs as well.

Western Radio Broadcasters Inc are in continual consultation with our community. As a matter of interest, a recent Victorian University survey that was conducted within our broadcast area encompassing the City of Brimbank, revealed that some 54% of households spoke a language other than English at home. On perusal of our Program Guide you will note that we extensively meet the needs of our Ethnic and English speaking community within our broadcast area.

We also cater to the numerous, associations and clubs again within our broadcast area with our programming. These programs are used as a vehicle for these clubs and associations as recruitment and support for these not-for-profit organisations. It also allows them to broadcast and publicise their upcoming events either in the community arena or social activities, and to highlight their achievements.

Likewise, numerous Ethnic groups/associations/not-for-profit organisations utilise our services right throughout our Ethnic language broadcasting. We have worked extensively throughout our Vietnamese language programs with the Victoria Police; Metropolitan Fire Brigade; Ambulance Service; State and Federal Government Departments; Local Government and associated groups to “break down the barriers” and provide information to non-English speaking listeners. A recent example of this has been our major devotion to creating awareness amongst the Vietnamese community of the services of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and the fitting of smoke alarms in homes and buildings.

We recently carried out an outside broadcast from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s station in Sunshine, which was the MFB Open Day for the Vietnamese community. This whole day was aimed at fire safety awareness to the Vietnamese community, and also a recruitment drive by the MFB for Vietnamese fire officers. On this day in excess of 5,000 people attended, and it was very gratifying to hear from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade that when they questioned attendees, a common response was that they heard it about it on the Vietnamese program on this radio station.

Another incident that happened recently was when the Victoria Police Homicide Squad contacted us to launch an appeal for witnesses to come forward re a Vietnamese homicide that occurred in Mildura. Numerous other requests are made on a regular basis. We are continually monitoring feedback from our listeners, and our General Manager, Mr Rod Boyd, along with Committee members regularly meet and also provide keynote speaking roles to numerous association; service clubs; local Government and various groups, and as a result of the culmination of all feedback received by our Programming Committee along with the Committee of Management endeavour at all times to establish or modify our programming around these needs and requests.
We actively encourage our listeners and community to give us their feedback. This is received by letter, fax, email or by visiting our website at www.stereo974.com where feedback information can be left.

We have taken a very pro-active role in Emergency Response Broadcasting for the western area of Melbourne (our broadcast area), and in fact all local Councils have published and distributed leaflets/fridge magnets outlining that in the event of an emergency occurring that residents are to tune to our station for up to date information. Within our broadcast area we have in excess of 23 major hazardous sites, so I am sure you can recognise the importance of this and our role as an Emergency Response Broadcaster. Our General Manager, Mr Rod Boyd, attends Emergency Response meetings conducted by the various Councils so that we are kept fully abreast of changing situations.

Recently we have worked extensively not only with the Hobsons Bay Council, but also with the Maribyrnong City Council on a pilot scheme that is being conducted by the Office of Emergency Services Commissioner, and a pilot scheme that has been conducted in relation to the Coode Island Precinct, and an emergency telephone system backed up by broadcast on this radio station.

We recently received a letter of appreciation from the Victoria Policy Media Unit commending us on the way we had handled the dissemination of information from an explosion that occurred in Brooklyn. We were immediately on air from the scene and broadcast emergency information such as road closures, direction that the hazardous plume was travelling and the relevant safety procedures for residents. We also covered live to air the media conference conducted by the Chief Fire Officer.

The Emergency Response Broadcasting role that this station carries out is regularly tested with various exercises and the like to ensure that the relevant procedures are in place should we be called on at any time during the day or night to fulfil our role that we have made a commitment to do. Our role in this area is ever expanding, and currently in consultation with the Maribyrnong City Council we are developing an early warning Flood Plan for the residents who live near the Maribyrnong River (This area is flood prone).

Some time ago an alliance was formed with Western Health. This is the governing/controlling body of Footscray, Sunshine and Williamstown Public Hospitals and associated health and aged care facilities. This station is now piped through all patient TV sets and on air we regularly broadcast interviews and information from leading doctors, medical specialists and nursing co-ordinators, and the feedback from this has been exceptional. We were recently involved in the 50th birthday celebrations for the Western Hospital, Footscray, and the subsequent “50 beds for 50 years” campaign. This was a public appeal to raise funds for 50 electronic beds valued at 3,500 each for the Footscray Hospital. When we came on board it had stagnated at 32 beds. All programs at this station got right behind this appeal and donations were received at the Footscray Hospital enabling them to purchase 53 beds. Western Health readily acknowledge us as a major contributor towards the success of this fund raising and we were presented with a certificate. To detail a further example – recently when a person lost considerable assets through fire, a band of volunteers from this radio station attended and spent a day cleaning up and removing debris for no payment whatsoever, only for a thank you from the person involved. Another example is when a young man left his bicycle outside the dialysis unit of the Sunshine Hospital and it was stolen, we had a quick whip around here and managed to not only buy him a brand new bike, but a new helmet to go with it. His bike was the only means of transport to attend at his regular dialysis.

Again recently we conducted an outside broadcast from the St Albans Good Friday Maltese Community Pageant. This was a overwhelming success and we have received numerous thank you’s, one of the most touching was from a Maltese listener who because she is incapacitated and in a wheelchair could not attend on the day, phoned us to thank us for taking her to the Pageant via the radio. She went on to say she really felt she was there. On this day approx. 10,000 people attended this pageant.

As previously stated, here at this radio station our motto is “by the community, for the community” and we are ever receptive to the needs of our community, and our flexibility re programming gives us the ability to be continually changing and meeting these needs.

From our track record I am sure that you can see that the blueprint is in place, and this will continue into the future. We readily and actively encourage our listeners to comment and make suggestions re programming and program content. We are continually conducting more outside broadcast from community events; festivals and the like and this allows us the opportunity to meet new people within our community from all walks of life and Ethnic backgrounds. We serve an area that is both culturally and ethnically diverse, and are always looking at how we can further meet the needs of this diverse listener base.

We have come a long way since our early days broadcasting from a shipping container in a vacant paddock, and now broadcast from state of the art studios with all the latest technology and equipment.

Rod Boyd JP
General Manager