Making, and selling, local radio
 Radio Ga Ga  

By // 15:14, Sunday 14 September 2014

generic_twcA MOVE to sell Warragul-based radio station 3GG fell through last month.

This article was first published in the 15 August 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.

The station, known as 3UL until 1989, will remain in the ownership of Resonate Broadcasters after a deal to sell to new company Watermark Media fell through.


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The wheels were in motion to make the sale, but two weeks ago Resonate reported it had terminated the process.
In a statement Resonate said: “Watermark Media defaulted under the terms of the agreement by failing to make payment under the Agreement for Sale.”

The attempted sale had no impact on Star FM, which despite sharing a building with 3GG is owned by a different company.
Budgets are a big issue in radio, and one of the changes that new technology has brought is the ability to broadcast 24/7 on the cheap.

Professional radio is fairly expensive to do. Salaries for country radio announcers and other staff have improved greatly and electricity costs are high, particularly for power-hungry AM transmitters. Then there are hefty licence fees for music, spectrum space and so on.

There are four stations with studios within the Baw Baw Shire: commercial stations 3GG and Star FM and community stations 3BBR and Vision Australia Radio. ABC Gippsland broadcasts into Baw Baw from its Sale studios.

Listeners at the east end of the shire can also hear commercial stations TRFM and GOLD 1242, which primarily transmit to central and east Gippsland. Morwell community station Gippsland FM can also be heard in Trafalgar, and occasionally even in Warragul.

All of these stations use two main forms of new technology to various degrees to maintain a 24/7 service: computerised playout systems and satellite links to central program hubs.

All four commercial stations use a system called NexGen in their studios. Using a computer, producers can control entire programs – songs, ads, promotions, features and all. Announcers can even record voice tracks and let the computer play the whole show, which is handy if they need a break or even a day off!

Such systems allow for great flexibility and the best utilisation of staff. There are no CD players or other devices in sight – everything is on computer servers.

ABC and community stations employ such technology to various degrees as well, although you’ll generally still find a CD player or two in their studios. Perhaps even a turntable!


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3GG, Star FM, ABC Gippsland, and Vision Australia Radio only broadcast from local studios for a limited number of hours a day. The rest of their airtime is pulled from a network programming source via satellite, with local ads or promos inserted into “windows.”

TRFM and GOLD 1242 maintain a high amount of local hours but, interestingly, the stations that are almost totally locally produced are the ones with the smallest budgets.

Community access stations 3BBR and Gippsland FM are manned by volunteers who do it for fun, not a living. All day there are presenters wandering in and out of studios in Drouin or Morwell with boxes of CDs and records, filling their allotted hours.

Greg has worked in the radio industry for 38 years.

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