Radio station celebrates 21 years on the airwaves
Tune into Loving Life 103.1 FM after 8am every Friday to hear The Daily Examiner editor Bill North discuss the latest news and sport headlines on Kick Start Your Day With Damo
FROM humble beginnings Loving Life FM is maturing like a fine wine as it celebrates 21 years on the airwaves.
Since first transmitting from a Villiers St loungeroom in 1999, the Grafton-based community radio station has grown and evolved with the times.
However, new president Adam Cinzio is looking back to the future in his plans to move the station forward, with a renewed focus on some of its core principles.
“We are a Christian broadcaster,” Mr Cinzio said. “Bringing a culture of courtesy and kindness into the station is very important to us and we’ve just had four volunteers come back because of that.
“It’s been a difficult year for everybody, including us. But things are improving now, especially helped by a grant from the Community Broadcasting Foundation for a new mixing desk and to help with running costs.
“Music is our strength, but also if people need help or are in crisis, we want to be a place they can turn to. We have family programs, and currently have one on parenting.
“I’d also love to see more young voices on air, producing programs.”
Mr Cinzio, who has a background as an electrical engineer, moved to Townsend from Glen Innes in 2018 and joined the station in December 2018.
Prior to his recent election to presidency he was vice-president and on the technical program committee, and through his work with the Seventh Day Adventist Church has developed a specific interest in mental health.
“We want to encourage community members to produce innovative programs in our studios,” Mr Cinzio said.
“My desire is for Loving Life to be a fun place to volunteer, as we serve our community.
“We’re hoping to cover the whole Clarence Valley in the future, and we were put on the NBN last December so we hope to be streaming online soon too.”
For the past 18 months Damien Fisher, who returned to the Clarence Valley with his family from Broken Hill, has delivered a professional approach to his breakfast radio program Kick Start Your Day With Damo, and was recently appointed station manager.
“Damo’s been a godsend,” Mr Cinzio said.
“He’s very professional, forward thinking, and has a buoyancy and resilience. He doesn’t give up, meanwhile he’s running his own business as well.”
‘LORD, HELP’: A short history of Loving Life FM
Damien Fisher caught up live on air with the station’s co-founder Paul Ordish as part of the birthday celebrations to relive some of the history.
“We came to Grafton in 1997 and before that I was involved in community radio in Brisbane,” Mr Ordish said.
“We were working in our local church and I knew there were people in Grafton who were looking at forming a community station.
“I met up with one of the guys involved in the group to help him with that. One day he turned up at our unit in Villiers St and said ‘I’ve been carrying this for five years and really don’t think I can do much more with it’. He promptly left everything at my place and at that point I said ‘Lord, help’, and continued on with the work that had already been started.
“In May 1998 we had our first board meeting in the loungeroom of our unit. There were five people on the board at the time - pastor John Baker, computer expert Grant Miller, eventual station manager Marilyn Baxter, Karen Avery and Kay Ware.
“We had to submit the paperwork to ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) about the viability of having a community radio station in Grafton.
“Ron Bell at 2GF was very cooperative at the time, and gave us a mixer setup so our trainee announcers could practice. He actually was going to offer us one of his studios that he wasn’t using, but ACMA said there couldn’t be any links between commercial and community radio, so we had to set up in the front of our unit.
“In June 1999 we had our first temporary transmission. We had to very strictly broadcast for two weeks playing three songs with a pre-recorded announcement in between, which went to air solid for three weeks.
“We invited people to contact us about whether they were receiving the signal and we got quite a large response.”
As a result the station got its temporary licence and, after a two-week delay to wait for the transmittor to arrive through customs, Delirious by History Maker was played on 103.1 FM at 6am on October 15, 1999. The station then received its permanent licence on April 3, 2000.
“The station back then was called Rhema FM 103.1 because we decided the simplest way to go was to join what was then the Rhema group, who played 100 per cent Christian artists,” Mr Ordish said.
“We managed to secure the old 2GF building at 124 Prince St, which was a fully-fledged radio studio. We had some very talented young people who wanted to be trained as announcers, and went to air with a breakfast program, a night-time program, and a children’s program once we were equipped with a fully computerised playout system in January 2001.”
One of the highlights for Mr Ordish was linking up with the Jacaranda Festival committee for several years from 2001 to run Purple Heads, an initiative where 10 personalities from Grafton would shave their heads and paint them purple to raise funds with 50 per cent going to a designated charity and 50 per cent to the station.
Mr and Mrs Ordish now live in Queensland, but still keep a keen eye on the latest developments of their long-time project of passion.
“We’re very pleased with some of the things we’ve seen happening at the station in the last few months and we wish everyone in Grafton the very best,” Mr Ordish said.
“Community radio is very important in a local community. It fulfils a vital need.”
Loving Life FM is now located at 91 Fitzroy St, has about 15 volunteers, more than 100 members and relies on donations in the community to fund its operations.
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