Murray River FM: Community radio volunteer hopes to carry on Mel Barton-Ancliffe's legacy
Ben Hedger has a big idea for the former River City FM, Murray Bridge's third radio station.
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Unless you’re a regular listener to 87.6FM, you might not know much about Murray Bridge’s third radio station.
The first two, of course, are 5MU and Power FM, commercial operations run out of a studio on First Street.
The third is River City FM.
Founded by the late Mel Barton-Ancliffe in 2002, it has brought “my kind of country” music to listeners in Murray Bridge and Mannum for almost 20 years.
Since Mr Barton-Ancliffe’s death last January, it has continued to broadcast music and brief announcements on an automated loop.
But Ben Hedger, a volunteer with the community station, and Alec Thomson, an engineer best known for his award-winning Christmas light displays, dream of turning it into something more.
Murray River FM is the name of a web-based radio station the pair have already started.
It streams a variety of music, from the 1950s to contemporary hits, online; and listeners can submit their song requests.
But taking over an FM frequency is another ball game entirely.
That’s why Mr Hedger got in touch with Murray Bridge News: to call out for locals with the skills and experience to help.
He has a folder full of ideas, and noble aims: being part of the community, informing local listeners, empowering people of all cultures and with all ability levels to help run a radio station.
What he needs are more volunteers to work alongside him; sponsors to meet some start-up costs; and people who know about the legalities of establishing a business structure, transferring an FM radio licence and broadcasting music over the airwaves.
It won’t be as simple as plugging the online stream into River City FM’s equipment.
Radio stations need a licence to transmit on an FM frequency, and licence ownership changes must be approved by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Murray Bridge News understands that River City FM’s licence is still in the hands of the public trustee following Mr Barton-Ancliffe’s death.
Still, Mr Hedger hoped someone out there would be able to help him work with Mr Barton-Ancliffe’s family to realise his dream.
“I’d like to actually grow this into a bigger blossom ... to address the community, (advertise) upcoming events, getting community-based news, and playing the music that no commercial station (would play),” he said.