Opinion from Ian Maurice.
If you saw a TV SitCom with this plot you’d probably get a few laughs and dismiss it as pure fiction. But the goings on at Community Station BayFM in the Redlands area of Brisbane are far from fiction.
The station has been on air for around 23 years and it seems that, apart from its early days, controversy and battles for power have been common place.
Not that power battles are anything new in community radio. Many community stations have had their own internal wars but Bay FM has raised the bar when it comes to degrees of vitriol and antagonism. Over the years there have been reported punchups between members and dummy spitting from people who regarded the station as their own
Like most community stations Bay FM held its AGM late last year and a lobby group, commonly known as “the friends of Bay FM” made a bid for control.
They were only partly successful but a new President, from outside their group, was elected.
But like a dog protecting its bone the “friends” went about looking for any avenue to unseat the newly elected Pres. They believed they’d found one when they discovered that the new President, had not been a member at the time of the AGM and was therefore not eligible to be elected.
There was a hastily convened meeting to discuss the situation during which Harling was asked to leave the building. He refused. Police were summoned to escort him. Once removed from the premises Mr. Harling promptly froze the station’s bank account. There were claims that a Minute book had been “stolen” from the station’s office and video surveillance was greatly increased.
With no funds available no bills were paid and even the cleaner missed out on remuneration for their few hours a week.
The Queensland Department of Fair Trading was then contacted about the ludicrous goings on and it warned the station that unless the situation was sorted to its satisfaction by the end of the month there was a real possibility that the broadcast association would no longer be recognized. This of course meant the community licence would be in jeopardy.
Another urgent meeting was called and, not surprisingly, supporters of both sides could see who was winning and immediately switched their loyalties.
So what was the outcome? The station is still broadcasting and the distinct lack of professionalism on and off air remains. The only losers in this entire civil war are those listeners in the community seeking something different from the same old formats delivered by the pros. Such are the joys of Community Radio.
See related article here.
Ian Maurice is a former commercial radio and television broadcaster familiar with the situation at Bay FM.