Millicent resident answers call

Prominent Millicent resident David Walshaw is hopeful his extensive management skills and governance experience can be put to good use at Millicent community radio station 5 THE-FM.

He has submitted a membership application form and wants to play a part in securing a five-year extension to the station’s broadcasting licence when it falls due in October.

Mr Walshaw said he was keen to volunteer his services after retiring from the paid workforce in his role as Red Cross regional director for the Limestone Coast and the Riverland at the end of June.

He attended and spoke at an informal community meeting in Millicent last month about 5 THE-FM convened by local resident Des Noll.

“I am concerned about some of the alleged serious governance issues which were raised at this open forum,” he said.

“I am also worried the Australian Media and Communications Authority may not renew the licence because 5 THE-FM has allegedly not fulfilled its governance obligations with respect to operating a radio station.

“I also heard at the open forum proven community involvement was one of the criteria in the licence renewal application.

“It would be a great loss to Millicent and surrounds if 5 THE-FM closed.

“I know that COVID over the past two years has made it very difficult for community-based organisations such as 5 THE-FM to function as normal.

“Hopefully my 35 years of experience at senior levels in the public service and not-for-profit organisations can be harnessed by 5 THE-FM.”

Mr Walshaw and his family moved from Adelaide in 2000 when he became chief executive of Millicent and District Hospital.

After seven years in this role, he was promoted to be the regional director of the South East Regional Health Service responsible for five hospitals and other facilities.

Mr Walshaw has since served as the Limestone Coast Division of General Practice board member and chief executive, RSL Care chief operating officer and Millicent and District Community Club honorary operations manager.

He also has an abiding interest in a ham radio group in this region.

His past local interests include being master of the Millicent Masonic Lodge, chairman of the St Anthony’s school board, coach of the Millicent Football Club Under 16 and Under 18 teams and Western Border junior coach of the year.

Mr Walshaw is optimistic about the future of 5 THE-FM as there is a solid base on which to build.

“It dates back to the 1980s and it has experienced and overcome many challenges,” he said.

“As recently as 2014, it was named as the best small community radio station in Australia.

“5 THE-FM continues to receive sponsorship from a number of long-established and successful Millicent businesses.

“The potential is there to grow the revenue of the station by attracting additional sponsors.

“I would like to see a return to 5-THE-FM of ethnic programs, specialist music and sports programs and outside broadcasts.

“5 THE-FM was the launching pad in the 1990s for Millicent High School students John Bleby and Leith Forrest and they have become announcers with commercial radio stations in Adelaide.

“It would be good to re-establish a training program for budding teenage broadcasters … and involve schools as in the past.

“I would like to have 5 THE-FM playing again in shops and businesses in Millicent and from the speakers mounted outside.

“I love listening to Phil Golding’s Wednesday lunchtime music program along with interviews conducted by Morning’s presenter Sheryl Lowe.

“We get to hear from the likes of police sergeant Rick Errington and local MP Nick McBride along with news from the RSL, Millicent Men’s Shed, Millicent Business Community Association, Wattle Range Suicide Prevention Network, service clubs and so on.”

Mr Walshaw said 5 THE-FM would benefit from additional presenters and back-up personnel, an expansion of its current five-member board and an updated constitution.

He is pleased the State Government has extended its long-term peppercorn lease at its base at the former Millicent railway station while Wattle Range Council provides a 100% rate rebate in recognition of its community benefit.

“The current constitution requires the annual general meeting of 5 THE-FM to be held before the end of September,” Mr Walshaw said.

“Hopefully, my offer to help guide the community radio station in such areas as governance and finance will be accepted at this meeting.”

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