McGowan powers on through the Whitsundays

On his FNQ odyssey, Keith McGowan passes through Airlie while passing judgment on Fraser Coast Radio and 4TOFM.

McGowan writes: Since their inception I have never been in favour of Community Radio. I could never see the need for it, and considered it all a waste of dial space. And money.

Of recent years I have changed my mind. Just a little.

Today so many  commercial country call signs have nothing to do with their local region. Their programs are relayed from another area to sometimes several stations. I have been in a number of broadcasting station buildings that no longer use their studios. Adds are played and local weather dropped in. So much for serving the locals. This is where the smartly run Community Stations in some cases have stepped up and filled the gap. 

For several days I listened to Fraser Coast Community Radio 107-5 and couldn’t believe how, to be kind, ordinary it was. It was clearly the strangest mixture of this and that and a bit more of this with presenters fumbling and mumbling and seemingly unfamiliar with operating a studio panel.

I did not hear a broadcaster who appeared to know too much about presenting a program. As I wandered around Hervey Bay I didn’t hear the station coming from any radios. I can understand why. These community stations surely have to have a reason to exist. I’d like to know how Fraser Coast Radio justifies its existence. 

Now here’s a real Cowboy Outfit

Townsville, the unofficial capital of North Queensland would be one of the tightest markets in Australia. The population of 185,000 are served by more than 15 radio call signs, three commercial and ABC and SBS TV channels, as well as a daily and a weekly newspaper.

4TOFM is the radio standout in no small part due to the popularity of local “legend” Steve “Pricey” Price. If “Pricey” sneezes Townsville catches a cold. At this time he’s enjoying a fortnight break. I can only imagine how traumatized his listeners are. They would be counting down the hours till his return.

Townsville is an army town and Steve recently broadcast his program from Afghanistan. Cornflakes in helmet and flak jacket. Price has been in the area for 30 years and is Townsville’s “star”. The Cowboys are the region’s Rugby League team in the NRL, and the weekend I was in the area the Cowboys ventured to Melbourne where for the first time in years they beat Storm. They love their Rugby League and they  know how to celebrate up here.