The History of 2AirFM
The First Studio
Bill Shipman at work
2AIR-FM was the brainchild of Graham Bell who had previously presented a country music program on ABC Radio from Kempsey. His dream was to start a radio station in Coffs Harbour playing country and easy listening music as well as other styles of music that were not catered for on any other radio station in the area.
In August, 1998 a public meeting was called and Kevin Rubie, the owner of The Big Banana, offered space under the restaurant of his complex to be used as a radio station. Enthusiasm was strong and within weeks a dedicated band of builders and helpers created new premises with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. People with radio technical skills emerged “from the woodwork” as well as people who had radio experience. Bill and Aileen Shipman, who had experience in radio, Richard Moore who was a former ABC announcer for 12 years in Albury (2CO) and Peter Hanrahan, a former commercial announcer and TV news reader volunteered to be presenters to assist the fledgling station “be on air” for the trial operations. Faye Saad agreed to be the Secretary/Treasurer. Then followed lots of hard work from volunteers of all descriptions. Bill Shipman was a builder and materials were donated or bought at greatly reduced prices. An obsolete console desk came from 2GF at Grafton and various other items of equipment were loaned or donated by the public.
Building the first studio
Finally, our first tentative broadcasts were made in August 1998.
Bill Shipman presented the first “Wake up to Country” program and Richard Moore the first breakfast program.
About 15 presenters kept the station on-air for the first 4 months.
Alan Eager, a former ABC presenter and tutor, agreed to run a course for presenters and this was taken up with enthusiasm.
The equipment was far from state-of-the-art, particularly the transmitter which was prone to cut out if the sun was too hot, or the wind blew, or it rained. The presenter had to close up the studio, run uphill to the transmitter site which was situated at the top of the hill and restart the transmitter. In the heat and wind this was not too bad but in the rain it was an unenviable task. The submission for a radio licence was a big effort entailing lots of meetings. Lawyer and committee member, Win Howard (husband of Wilma), was pivotal in composing the detailed submission.
The prime intention of the station was to entertain and inform the Coffs Harbour community and ensure the interests of the older residents and country fans were met. The other radio stations in the area were playing pop music and contemporary rock and there was nothing suitable for older listeners and lovers of country music. From the outset the station had great appeal not only to the oldies but also to the balance of the community. A lot of the music presented appealed to those who wanted to hear the music they had grown up with. This format has not changed in over 10 years.
The first broadcasting panel
There was however another submission for a Broadcasting Licence lodged in competition to 2AIR's submission. Radio Rhema had been broadcasting over the Coffs Harbour airwaves for three years and the Australian Broadcasting Authority ruled that airtime would be shared by the two candidates, Rhema being on air from Tuesday midday to Friday midnight and 2AIR from midnight Friday to midday Tuesday until a decision was made. The happy news that 2AIR had been granted a full licence came in December 1999 (what a wonderful Christmas present) and the new station went to air officially from 00.01 am on 1st January, 2000.
Jetty Village Shopping Centre Studios
Official Opening of new studios by Mrs Bell, mother of Graham with Tony Lennon, President
Unfortunately, Graham Bell's health forced him to resign and the station moved to its present site at the Jetty Village Shopping Centre in May, 2000 where it has since flourished.
ROTARY greatly assisted us in the fitting-out of the new studios in the Jetty Village Shopping Centre. Ironically we now occupy the same offices that the original youth orientated community radio station, 2CHY, used for over 12 years
We now have two technically sophisticated “on-air”studios, a production studio, a welcoming reception area and more presenters than available time slots. A far cry from 1998 when about 15 people kept the fledgling station together. ... and the station is growing stronger every day.
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