Station in spotlight

The future operations of Millicent radio station 5 THE-FM were canvassed at an informal community gathering on Thursday.

The hour-long open forum was held in St Alphonsus Hall in Millicent with governance and management issues drawing many comments.

It was convened by Millicent resident Des Noll who said he was acting in a private capacity.

Although he is the Mayor of Wattle Range Council, Mr Noll said the informal gathering had no connection with the council.

Mr Noll said Wattle Range Council was not paying his personal legal expenses.

Mr Noll said his earlier bid to stage a Special General Meeting of 5 THE-FM did not meet constitutional requirements and so he followed the advice of lawyers and opted instead to hold an informal gathering.

“I want to let the community speak,” Mr Noll said.

“I will facilitate change if necessary. There are to be no personal critiques.”

Among those to air their opinions or pose questions was 80-year-old Joanne Kegel who travelled from her home in Adelaide for the meeting.

She was the station’s first manager in 1985 and she gave an overview of its early life until her departure for Adelaide in 1999.

Ms Kegel said she was disappointed with the low amount of broadcasting now coming from the Millicent station.

Past 5 THE-FM presenter Bill Chapman said the station needed sponsors and presenters.

Mr Chapman said he underwent training and then presented regular programs.

He said he was eventually at loggerheads with management and decided to leave.

Mount Gambier community radio station 5 GTR-FM manager Nathan Butler said the five-yearly licence renewal for 5 THE-FM was due in October and community participation was one of the criteria.

Wattle Range Council chief executive Ben Gower gave details about three complaints his council had received about 5 THE-FM.

Mr Gower said the 5 THE-FM constitution which was adopted in 1997 provided for a local government representative on the board of management.

Past voluntary technician John Drew said circumstances led to his departure from the radio station and this saddened him immensely.

Other speakers included Faye Smith, Megan Brennan, David Walshaw, Phil Golding, Peter Wells, Dennis Muhovics, Nathan Butler, Paul McRobert, John Marshall, Michael Schultz, Ken Lane and Chris Copeland.

A show of hands indicated one current presenter was in attendance while there were 12 past presenters.

There was a strong representation from the Millicent Lions Club and Mount Gambier community radio station 5GTR-FM.

At the end of the meeting, dozens of attendees accepted the invitation of Mr Noll to fill in membership forms and pay fees in order to apply for membership of 5 THE-FM.

Mr Noll said the forms and funds would be forwarded for processing via his personal Mount Gambier solicitor to the Naracoorte lawyer which is acting on behalf of the five-member board of management of 5 THE-FM.

The SE Voice has approached 5 THE-FM for comment.

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