Community radio station now has three licence holders who must work together

Hawkesbury Radio host Gail Sweeny talks to dementia coach Peter Gooley in the Fitzgerald Street studio at Windsor in 2015.
Hawkesbury Radio host Gail Sweeny talks to dementia coach Peter Gooley in the Fitzgerald Street studio at Windsor in 2015.

THE turmoil surrounding the future of the community radio station in the Hawkesbury is not over yet, with the story evolving as we speak. 

The broadcasting licence of the current operator, Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM, was allowed to expire on October 3 after the broadcasting watchdog ACMA said the station wasn’t complying with requirements regarding community participation. 

ACMA called for applicants for a temporary broadcasting licence, which would be shared until ACMA issued a permanent licence to someone. Three applications were granted temporary licences – the current Hawkesbury Radio committee; a group called CAMS, and a group called Hawkesbury Valley Community Radio. 

The Gazette previously profiled the last group, which at the time was a composite of three local Rotary Clubs. However  the clubs have since withdrawn, so Hawkesbury Valley Community Radio now comprises Rod Rose, (assistant governor of the Hawkesbury Rotary clubs) and three other committee members who he said all have radio experience but whom he did not wish to name yet.

Mr Rose said he felt part of the reason the Rotary clubs withdrew was due to old allegiances. “A lot live next door to board members, and when I went out and talked to the different clubs about the radio station bid, some were very hostile,” he said. “A lot of people think Hawkesbury Radio was mistreated by ACMA  and that we were trying to take over.”

The situation now is that the three licence holders have to tell ACMA by this Friday how they intend to share air time equally. This is problematic as neither Hawkesbury Radio nor Mr Rose’s group wishes to share their transmitting equipment, which the third licence holder CAMS, has asked Mr Rose to do. 

CAMS is ‘Consortium of Australian Media Services’ which made a bid for FLAME 100.9FM at Bankstown. CAMS is headed by Ralph Heness of Peakhurst who currently has a breakfast program on that station. Mr Heness said “we are in a position to offer a community broadcasting radio station that involves everyone”. He said it would be run by the community, and called Windsor Hawkesbury Community Radio. They want people to contact them to broadcast, on 0452 595 845.

Chair of Hawkesbury Radio Paul Rasmussen said his group ”will continue to serve the Hawkesbury community, as it has done 24/7 for 39 years, with its fabulous shows and presenters either via free-to-air broadcasting or Internet streaming”. “It is our hope that during this period of temporary broadcast licence that the groups could work together.”