A History of Community Radio 2CCCFM, now CoastFM963
I don’t suppose too many people have thought of how to go about starting a community radio station from scratch. When one looks into what was involved in getting 2CCCFM up and running, you would realize what a Herculean task it was. Many years of meetings, fund raising and red tape, not to mention the odd set back and don’t forget, all those involved were volunteers, as we still are today.
After reading through some of Coast FM archives, old Making Waves, and some minutes and correspondence I have compiled a brief history of our station for the interest of current members, volunteers and presenters who would like to know what significant events and hard work lead to Coast FM in 2006.
But first let’s have a short look at Australia wide radio history to put 2CCCFM’s conception into perspective.
Commercial radio began in Australia in the 1920s and the government financed ABC network was established in 1932. It wasn’t until the 1970s that SBS (for ethnic community broadcasting / also government funded) emerged.
However the government soon noticed that there were many other groups and local communities not being catered for, so initially special broadcasting licenses were granted to universities (low powered transmissions) chiefly for broadcasting lectures. The very first one was 5UV on the AM band in Adelaide.In 1972 the Australian Broadcasting Control Board recommended a new category of radio station on the FM band known as public broadcasting. There were three categories available; Special Interest, Community and Education. The first station to go to air under the new arrangements was 2MBS in Sydney in 1974.
On the 28 April 1984 the first meeting for the purpose of assessing the possibility of having a community radio station on the Central Coast, was held. The attendees at that meeting were Trevor Gross, (also the first chairman) Leigh Aanensen, (who’s latest involvement with Coast FM was as recent as 2000 as Technical Convener) Stuart Sharp and Greg Chad. They created the Central Coast Media Association and was granted a test broadcast in September that year. Their task of setting up what was eventually to become 2CCCFM involved liaisons with many official bodies. Over several years different licenses had to be acquired, legal advice obtained and technical advice sought. Making Waves tells us that deciding on a program format had its problems too.
A permanent address to house the studio also proved to be a problem for several years. According to Making Waves Number 1, November 1985 (there were News Bulletins prior to that) a general meeting held at the Terrigal Senior Citizens Centre discussed the likelihood of a permanent studio at Mt Penang. This never eventuated. Instead some of the test broadcasts were held in a member’s neighbor’s garage at Woy Woy, a caravan at Mt Penang
and in a vacant shop at the Niagara Park Shopping Centre. These transmissions were on the very low power of 100 watts. The first test transmission was held in 1 – 3 May 1987 which included a word from Spike Milligan who became our patron in 1986 and later our first life member.
Prior to the test transmissions, $6000 of the $7000 spent on equipment was from grants. Some of the purchases were a reel to reel tape recorder, turn tables and a console. Other ways of raising money for further necessary expenditure were often social events such as cruises on the Brisbane Water and wine tasting at George Gibbson’s Holgate Wineries, among other activities. George presented a pre recorded nostalgia show on 2CCCFM for several years.
The transmitter for the tests was hired but other equipment was on loan from 2NUR (Newcastle) and 2GB (Sydney). The Sydney County Council let us use their Mt Elliot tower free. A shop at Niagara Park was provided free by the Gosford City Council and the land line was provided free by Telecom.
Prior to the Niagara Park test transmission there was a two page spread put in the Central Coast Sun and consequently presenters received many calls of encouragement during that two day broadcast. In 1986 a draft of the association rules was compiled and membership fees were $10, concessions $5. The Program Format Committee was broken down into four groups; News and Current Affairs, Music, Language Literature and light entertainment and Sport and Religion.
2CCCFM became incorporated in 1988 which protected members against claims for debts of the association and in that same year, four years before getting a full time license, the station had 266 subscribers (members).
In 1991 2CCCFM had 11 sponsors, and the first permanent studio in a shop at West Gosford was secured. According to a 1991 Making Waves, there was much jubilation when members were officially informed that a full time broadcasting license for 2CCCFM was approved. The license was finally officially received in 1992, 8 years after the station’s conception. This established two firsts; the first community station and the first FM station on the Central Coast.
In the early 1990’s we were given a caravan by McLean’s Caravans Wyong by way of a contra deal and this contributed much to the station’s publicity as it was used constantly at various Central Coast shows, ( including the Flora Festival ), shopping centres, live calls from local rugby league games and other outside broadcasts. It was also used for a short time in 1993 as an on air studio at Mt Penang when 2CCCFM was between vacating the West Gosford studio and moving into the new Toukley studio.
Another landmark in that same year happened at the Bateau Bay shopping center where 2CCCFM was transmitting live for several days. Bruce Carty, a past member and presenter broke the then Australian record for the longest continual broadcast, (121 hrs 3 mins ) putting 2CCCFM in the Guinness Book of Records. So these are just some of the landmark events up to 1993.
Obviously it had been a more involved haul than just those few events. It involved many members who came and went over the years, a few of which are still with us today. Some presenters went on to bigger and better jobs in radio thanks to the opportunity 2CCCFM gave them. Some of those presenters you may remember; Matt Granlen, Dave Kirwen, Caroline Perryman, Glen Lauder, Richard Allen, James Bracey, Brendon Woods, Greg Willmette and Daniel Cassin. Other events like establishing a second studio at the Niagara Park Shopping Center for presenters living in that part of the coast, then the move to the Gosford studios in 1997, (after 4 years at Toukley) Chris Holstein becoming our new patron after Spike Milligan’s death, Radiothons, a stint on TV when’ Room For Improvement ‘ gave our rooms a makeover, an upgrade of transmitters from 500 watts to 2000 watts which gave us a stronger signal.
A change of format, a station identity change to CoastFM963 in 2006 and a move to our current studio’s in Gosford were just a few of the things that took place in more recent years, but this will give you a feel of our history in the early years of your Coast FM963