The Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education (GIAE) Union formed an adhoc committee to examine the possibility of a community radio station being established in Gippsland. The then Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, Dr Moss Cass, indicated that a licence may be made available.
A working group had been established to further progress the idea of a community radio station based at the GIAE campus, providing a range of educational and community access programs. The group became known as the Gippsland Community Radio Society.
The organisation was able to take up grants from the Australia Council, but had to become legally incorporated. A community advancement co-operative was established in September of that year and seeding grants became available to assist in launching the station.
Studios were completed in the audio-visual department of the GIAE. Three licences were granted to the station under the Wireless & Telegraphy Act – these were for three broadcast frequencies – 103.5 for Morwell and two translators on 107.1 for Traralgon and 107.9 for Moe. The station was unable to equip itself for the 3 frequencies due to funding levels and proposed to commence on 103.5MHz.
By mid-October, 1977, test broadcasts commenced in mono at a power of around 10 watts. Brian Butler and Neil Hanley spent many hours during this testing stage. Just days before the official opening, the transmitter failed and considerable effort was expended in borrowing a replacement for the opening. All was in readiness for the big day – Monday, the 28th November, 1977.
November 28th. 3GCR-FM is officially opened by Eric Robinson, Federal Minister for Posts and Telecommunications at 1.00PM. The station commences broadcasting on 103.5 MHz from studios in the Gippsland Institute at Churchill (now Monash Gippsland), but an hour later the station is off the air when an excavator digs up the landline to the transmitter. First programs still go to air that night with Something For the Kids (with Brian Butler and Sandra Firth) followed by the first music program “Middle of the Road” presented by Ken Thompson.
March. Broadcasting is transferred to a studio in the transmitter shed on the Gippsland Institute campus. Hours of broadcast are 42 hours per week – 6pm to midnight daily. Bridging announcements continue to be produced daily on cassettes and presented in between all programs which are pre-taped. Life membership awarded to founding Chairperson Brian Butler.
Broadcast hours increase to 59 hours per week as Col Gray becomes the station’s first daytime presenter. Plans to relocate the transmitter site to Hernes Oak are developed in order to improve reception in the Latrobe Valley, with landline connection from Churchill studios. Life member is Maltese presenter John Pace.
Lack of funding hampers the transmitter relocation but moves to shift the studio to better facilities at the Churchill Shopping Centre seem possible. New transmitter site also later becomes affordable. Life membership awarded to Ken Thompson.
Station ceases broadcasts to move transmission and studio sites. Bureaucrats bungle licence requirements and station becomes unauthorised to broadcast from new site. Landlines are not available and UHF link then receives Government approval. Broadcasts (4 hrs/night) recommence after 5 months off air from the new transmitter shed at Hernes Oak while link is purchased and installed. Life membership awarded to Paul Strickland.
March. Broadcasts recommence from new studios at Churchill – up to 60 hours per week.
December. First outside broadcast featuring the Churchill Carols by Candlelight at the GIAE campus. Life member Murray Holm.
May. First licence renewal hearing held at the Morwell Civic Centre.
August. First live band to play in the studios is the Briagalong Bush Band, featured in Jim Catterwell’s program “Bush’n’Folk”.
November. Outside Broadcast from Churchill Apex Funday sees Bob Adams broadcast live from a helicopter while Paul Strickland commentates on the fireworks display that evening. Inaugural awards night starring special guests Mal Garvin (Fusion) and Andrew Ogilvie (3UL). Paul Strickland awarded Programmer of the Year, with a retrospective award also made to Rose Read for 1982. Life Member Richard Palmer.
August. Station broadcasts increase to 100 hours per week.
November. Program Awards held at Morwell Village Cinemas with guest speaker Linda Marsen from the PBAA. Programmer of the Year is John Koedyk.
July. Construction of new studios in Morwell commences
September. Vandals destroy transmitter and associated equipment – off the air again!
December. Awards night goes on despite being off air. Guest speaker is John Kristy and Ken Thompson is awarded Programmer of the Year.
March. Limited broadcasting recommences from the transmitter site after 6 months off air while studio relocation to Morwell progresses.
April. Broadcasts commence from new studios at the Morwell Co-operative building in Ann St.
July. Licence renewed without a formal hearing for a further 3 years.
September. First sporting broadcast is presented featuring the MGFL Grand Final from Morwell East. Commentators are John Hehir, Laurie “Truck” Williams and Cyril Chaproniere while Keith Prestidge provides technical support.
November 28. Jon Martin completes the first 50 Hour Deejay Marathon to raise funds for the station.
December. Annual Program Awards are held at the Village Cinema for the third successive year; special guest is 3UL personality Di Hathaway. Programmer of the Year is Keith Prestidge.
September 1. Broadcast hours extend to a new record of 124 hours per week with the establishment of permanent weekday morning programs.
October. Gippsland FM changes frequency to 104.7 MHz.
November. Breakfast program begins extending hours to 144 per week. FOX Report is broadcast on relay as the Breaky news service.
December. Annual Program Awards held at the Traralgon Little Theatre, featuring songs and skits from the Lumen Christi Revue as entertainment. Programmers of the Year are Mrs Parry and Neil Little. Life member Keith Prestidge.
February. New transmitter is installed taking effective power to 5kW.
May. Thieves break into Ann St studios and take all studio equipment. However old back-up equipment is used to get the station back on air in a few days.
July. Continuous broadcasts commence with the installation of the overnight Roll-On CD system covering non-live periods of broadcasting. RRR News replaces the FOX Report in Breaky.
December. Awards Night returns to Village Cinemas with Jon Martin and Neil Hanley being awarded joint Programmers of the Year.
May. Steve Cassar performs the 50 Hour DJ Marathon.
October. Jenny Canovan and Paul Strickland are appointed as the first paid employees of the station. First official station survey estimates weekly audience at greater than 30,000 listeners.
December. Awards Night is held at the Merton Rush, with Darren Downs awarded Programmer of the Year.
March. Program Philosophy conference held at Carinya Child Care Centre proves to be a watershed for future programming and marketing pursuits. Minister for Transport and Communications Ralph Willis visits station with local MHR Barry Cunningham.
May. Studio refurbishment is in progress while Bryce Wright and Pete Colantuono raise $7000 from the 50 Hour DJ Marathon.
June. Pyramid Building Society collapse sees $28,000 of station funds frozen. Station struggles to survive its most serious cash flow crisis.
August. Dan Jordan and a host of others establish the successful 3-Ring Circus project featuring local bands. A month later the station broadcasts its first musical o/b featuring Pesky Wabbits from Georges Bar & Grill.
December. Awards Night is held at the Latrobe Convention Centre starring RRR Breaky Presenters Chris Hatsis and Stephen Downs. Bryce Wright is Programmer of the Year. Life member Neil Little.
February. ‘Rally in The Valley’ is broadcast live from the Morwell Football oval.
May. Bryce Wright performs another successful 50 Hour DJ Marathon.
October. Volunteer news team commences on the Breaky Show. Station receives 3 finalist nominations in the national PBAA Awards – Mario Sammut for Ethnic Programming, GAMA for Aboriginal Programs and the station for the 3-Ring Circus project.
November. Awards Night held at the Morwell Falcons with special guest Neil Hanley delivering an all time classic speech on digital broadcasting. Programmer of the Year is Pete Colantuono. Life member Neil Hanley.
June. Matt Tipping and Donna Gordon perform the 50 Hour DJ Marathon. Victorian Premier Joan Kirner officially opens Studio 2 at Morwell.
November. Paul Strickland resigns from employee position to take up new post at Monash Gippsland. Matt Tipping becomes the station’s first paid presenter broadcasting the Breaky Show Monday to Friday. The Awards Night is held at Tower Gardens with Ralf Koss as Programmer of the Year.
March. Dorothy Ball and George Francis are appointed as station sales representatives. Chris Devers leads the station in the great telephone book delivery fundraiser. Keith Prestidge elected to the Community Broadcasting Association of Victoria committee.
June. Gippsland FM organises the Reggies Conference with representatives from 7 local community stations (Mornington, Inverloch, Warragul(aspirant), Omeo, Mallacoota, Lakes Entrance and ourselves) attending at Lakes Entrance.
July. Station broadcasts the republican debate held at Kernot Hall – featuring Dame Leonie Kramer and Professor Donald Horn, moderator is Sir Ninian Stephen. Dan Jordan and Helen Preston perform a somewhat dramatic 50 Hour DJ Marathon.
October. Michael Holka and David Wilkinson take over on the Breaky program while Robyn Mauger is appointed to bolster the station sales team. Program Awards are held at the German Club Astoria with Barbara Mildenhall and Laurie Williams awarded joint Programmer of the Year. Life member Mrs Parry.November. Paul Strickland is elected to the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia national committee.
February. Beatlemania Weekend special provides a successful outcome for station profile and finances.
May. Long time station volunteer Keith Prestidge departs for 3RRR.
June. Bryce Wright, Phoebe Brand, Jenny Canovan and Ken Thompson raise a record amount in the 50 Hour DJ Marathon. Station Conference held at Ninde Dana Quaranook, Morwell.
August. Station broadcasts o/b from the Monash Gippsland Open Day.
September. Public Radio news commences on the hour via our own community radio satellite network. Station survey confirms listening audience at 29,000 listeners weekly.
November. First o/b from the Church St Fiesta. Awards Night held at the Morwell Golf Club with battle of the bands winner “South Eastern Arterial” featuring while Leonie Bolding is awarded Programmer of the Year. First interstate sporting broadcast is presented by Justin Nelson and Ray McLusky as they call the Morwell Falcons against Adelaide in the National Soccer League. Ian Boyd commences as a station employee to produce a weekly work life program for the Morwell Coal Mine.
December. Rolling Stones weekend is broadcast – not as successful as Beatlemania earlier in the year.
January. First Young People in Radio Course is held, sponsored by Edison Mission.
February. Weekend specials continue with the Kiss Special (Pete Colantuono)
April. Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett appears on the station as part of the half time discussion from the Morwell Falcons broadcast match.
May. Rock’nRoll Breaky Week with an all Elvis Friday. George Francis retires from station sales role.
June. Melissa Pollard, Arden Hanley and Shane Elson perform the 50 Hour DJ Marathon. Station assists in the local Battle of the Bands.
August. VP Day celebrations are broadcast from Falcons Park by Bruce Mapperson, Jenny and Brendan Grainger, with Shane Elson and Arden Hanley assisting.
September. Station Conference held at FRAC, Morwell.
November. Morwell Golf Club again for the Awards Night with Jenny Grainger awarded Programmer of the Year. Life member George Andreou.
February. Jenny Canovan resigns from paid staff to take up a post at Monash Gippsland. No paid staff working in station management as a result.
June. Arden Hanley departs for 3TR. Prime Minister John Howard is presented live from Sale FC on the proposed guns legislation.
November. Ian Boyd leaves paid project position. Awards Night held at the Morwell Golf Club with a special broadcast award made to Loren Nania, while Programmer of the Year is Ann Laidlaw. Life Member Barbara Mildenhall
February. The Gippsland FM Pool Party is an outstanding success. Andrew McDonald and Peter Thain lead the event.
June. Station Conference at SCOPE, Morwell – proposals for a revised vision and mission are discussed. A follow-up conference in September endorses the revised document. Robyn Mauger leaves the sales team.
November. Morwell Golf Club for the Awards Night again. Life member is Randall Green. Programmer of the Year is Peter Thain.
December. Soccer broadcasts resume following successful negotiations with Morwell Falcons.
February. Theft at the studios results in around $9,000 in equipment plus CD’s being stolen. Pool party at Traralgon – poor weather made it a bit of a fizzer and a financial failure.
Programmer Contract and Volunteer Handbook launched.
April. $798 was raised by George and Irene Andreou through a raffle fundraiser.
June. Battle of the Bands held at Karma Hall Morwell (Bruce Mapperson leads for Gippsland FM)
October. Station delivers telephone books as a fundraiser (John Hehir co-ordinates). Ian Boyd awarded Programmer of the Year.
Loren Nania’s Cookbook is published as a station fundraiser (Gary Mauger assisting)
March. Station provides training for an aspirant group formed at Yarram. Training presented by Jenny Canovan, Keith Prestidge, David Wilkinson, Davin Thompson and Ken Thompson.
December. Tim Ryan awarded Programmer of the Year
August. New constitution approved by Consumer and Business Affairs, Victoria. Little change to the old rules – simply an improvement to some procedural issues.
October. Radiothon held over a weekend to raise funds for a new transmitter. Peter Thain organises the event which raises around $7,000.
New computerised logger system installed.
Shane Elson elected to the national committee of the CBAA.
Community Broadcasting Foundation provides grant of $7,000 for new transmitter
April. Station conference held at Powerworks Morwell – facilitated by Richard Elkington. All agreed it was the best event for years with significant improvement in spirit and co-operation. A number of sub-committees formed to re-develop station activities.
May. New aerial and electrical upgrade at the transmitter site.
July. Station informed by the Latrobe Council that it will have to vacate the premises by the end of the year due to demolition of building to make way for new justice precinct. DDN equipment provided by the Community Broadcasting Foundation
October. New transmitter installed – taking total investment in new equipment for the year to around $30,000.
November. Station celebrates 25 years of broadcasting at the Morwell RSL. A nostalgic night of reminiscing was had by all.
January. Station commences operation from new premises at the ETU Building in Morwell. Shane Elson leads the successful studio re-development project with support from many volunteers and external contractors. Project cost is $35,000 and Albert Abraham is noted as a key contributor to the project, while financial assistance from the CBF ($7000) and the Latrobe City ($12,500) was fundamental to the relocation.
June. Christian Zahra (MHR) officially opens the new studios.
August. Bryce Wright performs yet again another 50 Hour DJ marathon. The event is extremely successful with support from John Holland and raises almost $8000 or which around $2500 is donated to the Latrobe Regional Hospital appeal for its proposed cancer care ward.
September. LMC Consulting undertake an independent audience survey. Results show that a significant listening audience (around 27,000 per week) and a high level of community awareness (92%) exists.
September. John Holland Goes National – John Holland’s program of swing and 40’s style popular music has been granted a weekly spot on the ComRadSat – the community broadcasting national satellite service. This is the first regular gig by one of our presenters and John is to be congratulated for his efforts on “My Kind of Music”.
November. Hilary Reynolds leads a successful fun-day event at the Churchill Saloon Bar to raise funds for the station. Supported by the local country music industry and despite the cool weather a reasonable crowd attends and around $4500 is raised. The support of Wendy Robinson and John Holland was also acknowledged.
July. New STL link installed courtesy of a grant from the CBF.
August. The station commits to the studio re-development with the purchase of two new mixing panels.
December. Studio 2 refurbishment completed. New computer systems also in progress courtesy of a $9177 grant from the CBF.
March. Station commences holding a Sunday lunch at So Swish café in Morwell on a monthly basis.
April. Installation of new studio desks and Elan consoles in the two main studios completed. The involvement of Garry Gunn and support from David Ellis, Peter Gray and Shane Moore is acknowledged. This is an historic event in that it marks the fulfilment of having two broadcast studios with identical layouts and operating panels – which will assist greatly in the training of new personnel. The cost of the project was over $40,000 plus $10,000 on the computer upgrade.
July. Greg Hansford, Peter Thain and Ken Thompson perform a 25 Hour Beatles Marathon to raise just under $6000 for the station. John Holland raises the most contributions for this event.
A new station slogan conceived by Ken Thompson is launched – “Connecting our Community” or the “Community Connection”.
A new back-up transmitter is established with a grant from the CBF of $5991.
January. New aerial is installed at a cost of $12,000 – enhancing the signal following lightning damage to the previous aerial during 2006. The CBF provided a grant for around half of the cost.
April. Training course run which is successful in delivering around a dozen new presenters to the line-up.
July. Richard Werner retires from the Administration Co-ordination role and is replaced by Maree Orr and Giselle Dexter.
August. Awards Function held at the Morwell Club – attended by more than 200 people. Ann Laidlaw awarded Presenter of the Year and the Gippsland Hall of Fame inaugurated.
November. Shane Elson awarded life membership.
June. The Captain Midnight Show concludes after just on 30 years of broadcasting with Fusion Gippsland moving to the late afternoon timeslot with a new youth program called Generation Y. This results in the closure of the Driving Force program which had been running for 19 years.
June. Country music weekend fundraiser is held over the Queen’s Birthday weekend and raises over $5,000.
February. Station broadcasts the ABC during “Black Saturday” bushfires after the ABC transmitter is unable to broadcast due to the bushfires. Maree Orr enabled the broadcasts by taking the ABC feed via the telephone system. The re-broadcast was from 11pm Saturday 7th February through to 6am the following Tuesday morning and provided vital life-saving information to those under threat from the bushfires. A formal letter of appreciation was received from the ABC.
April. A new software package is implemented to assist in the efficient broadcast of announcements and provide an automation option for broadcasting.
June. Greg Jessep and Maree Orr organise a successful music trivia night at the Morwell RSL. DJ Mario Sammut also provides great entertainment on the night. Giselle Dexter is farewelled after serving a couple of years in the office as one of the Administration Co-ordinators.
July. Michelle Callaway joins Maree Orr in jointly managing station administration. Station holds a 50 hour Rock’n’Roll marathon as a fundraiser.
May. Station commences a strategic business planning review with Ian Try (Try Consulting). Maree Orr resigns due to other commitments.
June. Audience survey completed by Monash University.
July. Station holds a Sensational 70’s mini (25 hour) marathon and raises over $7,000; a donation of $2,500 is made to the Latrobe Regional Hospital who were promoted as a joint beneficiary.
November. John Holland awarded life membership for his outstanding dedication to the station as a presenter and salesperson.
April – May. Largest ever number of trainees (29) enrol in the station training and induction course. Venue is St Lukes Morwell given the size of the group. A graduation ceremony is held on 23 May’11 attended by station personnel and the graduates.
July. 24 hour Aussie Music marathon presented as the annual fundraiser for the station.
July – the Sudanese program commences with Abuk Kon leading the project.
November – Station awards function held at the Morwell RSL – Matt Cameron takes out the major award and the event is well attended.
January. Michelle Callaway leaves the administration due to other commitments
July – Tim Ryan performs the ‘Truckin With Tim’ 24 hour dee-jay marathon raising a record amount of more than $14,000 – of which almost $4,000 was donated to the Latrobe Regional Hospital. The station is truly appreciative of the listeners and sponsors who supported this event.
November. Station awards function is held at the Morwell Bowling Club and again very well attended. Marty Potter wins the major award and recognition is also given to the Be Heard (youth) project team.
April – Be Heard youth project holds a CD launch at Old Gippstown in Moe. Around 200 people attend where 17 young bands performed.
May – production is in full swing for the “Safer Roads In The Valley” lead by Greg Jessep and “The Carbon Tax” produced by Bec Symonds, Les Hunt and Ken Thompson. These programs were the first content grants received by the station for many years and supported by the Community Broadcasting Foundation.
August – Play VIC Week featuring Victorian artists and composers was well delivered by a wide range of presenters; Hilary Reynolds had seven different live acts performing in her Friday breakfast show.
September – Federal election candidates forum broadcast live from the Morwell Bowling Club.
November – annual awards night held at the Morwell Club with Mario Sammut being awarded Presenter Of The Year.