Two more Victorian community radio stations have become official emergency broadcasters in time for the bushfire season. The Minister for Emergency Services Bob Cameron announced that Stereo 974 FM in Brooklyn and Plenty Valley FM will both take on the emergency broadcasters role in a further bid to boost emergency messaging to communities in times of need. Emergency broadcasting will be an important topic at this weekend’s Community Broadcasting Conference in Hobart.
The agreements are similar to the MOUs in place between the emergency services, community broadcaster UGFM Radio Murrinidindi, commercial radio networks, ABC local radio and Sky News TV.
Stereo 974 FM broadcasts on 97.4 FM to the western suburbs of Melbourne, including Brooklyn, Sunshine, Braybrook, and Footscray, and Plenty Valley FM transmits on 88.6 FM to high fire risk areas in the Nillumbik Shire Council and City of Whittlesea, including Eltham, North Warrandyte and areas of the Kinglake Ranges.
Cameron says: “Stereo 974 FM and Plenty Valley FM are both committed to providing official emergency information to all communities in their areas, no matter the emergency, and the Brumby Labor Government is proud to partner with them in having this historic MOU signed. Both stations have a strong history of serving their respective communities.”
While all radio stations have access to emergency information, under the new agreement, Stereo 974 FM and Plenty Valley FM will break into programming to broadcast emergency warnings at the request of the emergency services, and move to continuous coverage in some circumstances.
The Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner has invited all community broadcasters in Victoria to enter into emergency broadcasting MOUs, subject to their capabilities. Local information is critical to saving lives, according to Acting Emergency Services Commissioner Joe Buffone.
Stereo 974 has “worked tirelessly” for the last 12 years, in establishing Emergency Response / Recovery Broadcasting / Early Warning System Procedures according to General Manager Rod Boyd.
He says the station has always had “a flexible outlook towards programming, and our commitment to Emergency Response Broadcasting both in Ethnic and English Languages (60 Hours in 10 different languages weekly), places us in a position whereby we can service the needs of our community and listeners.
“With the signing of this MOU, it will enable Stereo 974 to further enhance our Emergency Response and Recovery Role.”
Emergency Broadcasting will be a major workshop topic at this weekend’s Community Broadcasting Conference, with a session hosted by Steve Ahern gathering a range of emergency broadcasting specialists together to inform delegates on the best ways to handle emergency broadcasts.
Other speakers at the CBAA conference will include Federal Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy, Greens Communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam and Tasmanian Minister for Environment and the Arts David O’Byrne.
The sector’s latest listenership survey will be released at conference, and sessions will explore digital content production and the launch innovative music distribution systems. A highlight of Conference this year is The CBloggers Project where 20 young broadcasters from across Australia will be flown to Tasmania and trained in new social media to take the CBAA Conference from Hobart to the world, via podcasts, vodcasts, tweets and blogs.