Yass FM, the community radio station that broadcasts throughout the Yass Valley, is in danger of going quiet forever unless it can find a permanent new home.
The radio station, which has been on air for more than 20 years, has been operating from a Yass Valley Council site near the swimming pool but knew it to be only a temporary fix after its long-term home at the old town waterworks site became uninhabitable.
With its thousands of listeners and goals of promoting the local community and all its parts – while providing valuable skill opportunities for all its volunteers – the station is keen to maintain its important role in the region.
President of Yass FM, Geoff Frost, said the station was grateful to the Yass Valley Council for providing a temporary site near the town swimming pool, but the lease ran out soon when work was scheduled to begin on a new swimming pool complex.
“We knew it was coming and council has been very good letting us broadcast from there, but time is running out for us to find a new home,” Geoff said.
“We also need to upgrade our transmitter to provide a better service for our listeners.”
Community radio in towns like Yass does more than just play the announcer’s favourite tunes. It can be the heart of a community, the place to go for information as diverse as weather conditions, lost dog call-outs and spreading the word in times of crisis.
It also offers a voice for local musicians, artists, writers and other creative souls who may not normally have access to a wider audience; can provide outside broadcasts at community events; and as a community forum where local issues can be discussed widely. It also provides people with the opportunity to learn new skills, like broadcasting and public speaking which in turn can lead to better paid employment opportunities and improved self-esteem.
Most importantly, they can become the centre for local information in times of local crises like bushfires or floods – when no-one knows the area like a local.
Geoff said Yass FM had applied for a Stronger Country Communities grant from the NSW Government to cover the cost of a new building. It was also in talks with the Yass Valley Council about using a site near the southern entrance to the town as a possible new home.
“It’s the site where the old service station was and would be next door to where the Yass Men’s Shed now is so it would be perfect as a community hub right on the main road as you head into town.”
The Stronger Country Communities grant would fund the construction of the building and move the station’s transmitter from Manton to Bowning Hill for improved reception.
“So what we have to do now, as soon as possible, is to come up with the money for the new building,” Geoff said. “We’re looking at $150,000 to $200,000,” he said, adding that it would be a far from fancy setup, just a shed-type construction.
“All we need is space for two studios, with a storage area and facilities for our presenters. It would be very basic but it would be great if we could have solar panels and a decent battery which would help reduce the electricity bill. It would also be good in times of emergencies to have that power.”
Geoff said Yass FM was now calling on the community to help secure the grant and with it, a permanent new home.
The station already has about 40 volunteers, with 30 regularly broadcasting on air, with the remainder working behind the scenes to ensure the words get out.
Based on the latest Community Radio Listener Survey data for non-metropolitan areas, 25 per cent of people who live out of town listen to community radio, spending an average of more than 13 hours a week doing so. For the Yass Valley, that translates to an audience of about 4000 each week, about 1000 of them exclusively.
“Community support for the station is a key part of any funding application and your support may well be making all the difference in whether we get the grant or not,” Yass FM says in a letter to its community. “The potential consequences are serious as our current premises are strictly temporary.”
Yass FM listeners are asked to show their support for the station via email to email@example.com or mail to Yass FM at PO Box 51, Yass. NSW. 2582.
Original Article published by Sally Hopman on About Regional.