Who goes to an AGM anyway?
I had the privilege of attending an informative, tight and interesting AGM on Sunday 25th August 2019. Started at 12, by 12.40 pm we were out talking together, having some lunch and I had the pleasure of meeting the people I’ve really only listened to.
Now before you roll your eyes and think, OH NO, an AGM! Who'd want to go to one??? I'd like to share with you my thoughts because I've not really been in many positions where I go to any. Not being big on membership and clubs, yet interested and enjoying being around the MansfieldRadio peeps, I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone, don the ‘not farm’ clothes and check it out.
I reckon I’d go to more if they were all run like this. In plain English it’s the snapshot of the previous year wrapped up in a neat presentation and if you’re not a person who feels they can stomach a committee meeting, it’s generally the sum of all the great things the committee did to make the organisation a better place for all involved.
The whole process was quite interesting and gave me a better appreciation of how a well-run community group works. RadioMansfield is completely volunteer run and if you’ve ever been involved in volunteer groups, it’s sometimes like herding cats. We're of different personalities, ages, cultures and motivation for being part of it, so there are egos involved and no money.
But the radio station really has a different meaning to commitment, because all the presenters here are volunteers. Given that the station plays over 78 broadcast hours each and every week from the studio, with 10 or so hours also broadcast to UGFM, this is quite amazing. Our great presenters turn up pretty much like clockwork and when they can’t, there’s usually someone to stand in for them.
These amazing people don’t have a flurry of broadcast directors, huge sponsorship budgets, pandering diva presenter who are managed by a team of people behinds the scenes to get things going, they’re just people with a passion to share their stories of life, through music and conversation. It’s quite remarkable.
I’m sure there’s ego involved, I mean I’m going to have my own show on Sunday afternoons, two in fact, one about technology and one about farming, where I can share my thoughts and music, and it makes me quite happy to do this. I can’t tell you why exactly, but community radio really does help bridge the distance gap often felt by people who live outside the cities. It allows presenters to be able to share a reliable source of relevant and meaningful information that enriches the lives of the people who like to listen.
It's about the Tech
But there’s even more magic than what happens on the airways! It’s these incredible people behind the scenes who make those airways happen. RadioMansfield is now an official emergency broadcaster with the recent updates and the purchase of the Tieline VIA. In the terms of broadcasting mojo, that’s up there with the big boys of radio, and when you’re listening through an emergency broadcaster, you’re with the real deal. This technology helps the station with its portability and ability to transmit in difficult areas and crowded areas.
Just to get this into perspective and give you an understanding of how works, think about this scenario. Have you ever been to a concert or large gathering of people and the phone connection drops out or you can’t get a call, or can’t send a message, or you never get that reply you're waiting on... And it's a real important message to your mate, standing 10 deep at the bar, to get a drink for 5 of you and you're changing your mind from that locally crafted beer with a honey twist to the pale ale but you're not game to venture into that crowd to tell him. That's important right... And your message gets through three hours later, at 2AM when they're asleep! That's when the towers can't handle the amount of people on the network and you're message is queued.
Well, a situation similar to this happened a couple of years ago when the RadioMansfield was doing a live broadcast for a large event. With over 4,000 people at an event, important information couldn't be relayed back to the station for broadcasting. The congestion on the network was so much that the information being sent back to the studio took many, many hours to send through, which sort of defeated the purpose of the live broadcast but the crowds, location and distance together brought about this problem.
That was solved this year with a product called a Tieline ‘Via’. Now what is a Tieline 'VIA'... Great question, you'll want to know because these tech guys were so genuinely excited about this it made me go out and research it. And I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but tech people smile, on the inside, and only sometimes. They are serious folk here because their work takes up so much thinking and head space. There is no need to exert the energy of the 17 muscles to smile, when their mind just knows they are happy!!!
The Tieline VIA is a small, powerful, portable piece of equipment that binds together different communication methods to allow the station to power through the noise of crowdy, congested airways. Whether it’s ethernet, wifi, modems, the ability to bridge (fancy word for joining together) the communication channel together means they are the big boys in the field and when they broadcast, it will get delivered. Just imagine how fast your interwebs would be if you could bind together your wifi and home WITH your phone connection, and your mates phone connection too, to make one mother of a connection. Even for country folk who are deprived of any real decent speed, we'd be impressed I'm sure, except you guys just out of range at the back of Bonnie Doon or Jamieson or places where the government doesn't think we should live, there's a world of pain all the time.
This makes their live events pretty amazing now because beforehand they had take that cool retro caravan, which we do love seeing, but let’s say there’s a situation where a caravan can’t go, well the Tieline VIA allows them the ability to basically be storm chasers if they wanted to be, but remember, the tech guys are sensible folk. .
They’ve also spent their time and effort in working on getting a 600 watt transmitter for the Paps and all the people who complained about the occasional flaky transmission, when this is done, it will be less likely. All this progress is done through volunteers. They have experience in the industry and are helping make Mansfield an even better place because we’re able to communicate daily and as emergency broadcasters.
They’re able to put these things together because there is a vision and commitment to making the station as good as it can be with the resources available. The government fortunately provides some very good resources by the way of grants to communities which have helped tremendously. While it’s all there for the asking, there is documentation and a case to be put forward, with all that dreadful writing stuff that people don’t do because they think it’s too hard.
But it's those details that make the difference because RadioMansfield has been very fortunate to have a great mix of skills and talent behind the scenes where they communicate together, put forward their case and are then are awarded significant grants to improving the channels of communication from the station in Mansfield to as much of the shire as possible.
The technical details of the work done are available for download and you’re invited to read Ray Sheldrick’s report. Even I could understand most of it. Thanks Ray for making it easy for us who are interested but not really radio savvy. A special mention needs go to Rob Voice & Keith Rogers for stepping through the mindfield of work in relation to the NBN and ADSL removal possibly in November. If you’ve ever had to call Telstra and thought it hard work, you’ll appreciate that amount of work involved trying to get anything done through to completion and hand over.
There is no tricking our team of techs at RadioMansfield and you are greatly appreciated!
The president’s report was positive with the improvements over the last 12 months and the ability to get those grants moving in RadioMansfield’s direction.
I’m of the opinion that a good community driven, volunteer organisation runs well with a president who has an understanding that herding cats is difficult, but it is possible, with enough backup on your side. Sometimes there are difficult decisions to be made, but when as many people as possible share the same vision and are on the committee, magic happens. It really does because the president’s report shows just how great the year has been.
Now, I know the president has been here for a while, but there’s no one I see running up to take that position. But he’s got a plan to see some of the infrastructure changes finished and then perhaps someone else will take on the role.
The new committee includes the volunteer presenters but this year is a special year. A member of the community, you know, a live listener of the station, who is not a presenter came along and said they want to be part of the behind the scenes activities of which there are many. How cool is that!
It’s going to be great to see how this works and combined with some automation on the busy end of administration, with some training, the station will mature further into a well rounded organisation with a vision in place, the ability to grow through sharing knowledge and benefiting all who listen and become involved.
Life Member Awards
Talking about presenters and those who contribute, it was fantastic to see some official awards given to some popular names. Not surprisingly, two favourites were Greg Wilder and Kathy Octigan. Their presence and shows have enriched their listeners and congratulations to them both. They are valued at RadioMansfield and not only did they get an awesome little wall hanging, their name will now proudly be displayed on the website alongside the other great contributors because at the end of the day, this station only exists because of volunteers and these two are standouts! Thanks Kathy & Greg. Click the links to read their bio and more about their shows.
The positions were declared open, the new committee proposed and accepted, one by one and there we had the meeting over in 40 minutes, with a great feeling that the next year is going to be terrific.
New faces, new presenters, new shows, new equipment, updated website with new vision for their online presence.
Thank you to all who did so well last year and I'm looking forward to making a contribution to RadioMansfield over the next year, in between farming.
I’m thinking it’s going to be a great year for RadioMansfield 99.7 FM – Your Voice In the High Country and I’m looking forward to sharing more of it with you as my role of secretary this year. … what was I thinking. 😊
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(disclaimer ... this is my opinion and overview only. And if you see a typo, for goodness sakes, let me know. I read these things about 20 gazillion times and still get caught out proof reading my own head space on paper, so just let us know and I'll fix it up. And if you're nice about it, there could be strawberries involved in saying thanks. )