My Shed

“It’s just a shed!” Exclaimed my young guest as we exited my car in the carpark outside the studios of 98.9 North West FM. Wedged in between a community hall and a tennis club, North West FM has been my home away from home for over 10 years and my friend’s remark certainly struck a chord.

In there lay a community spirit that was kindled by dozens of dedicated, vibrant, enthusiastic and selfless volunteers each making their mark in their own unique way

I had nothing against the term ‘shed’ however ‘just’ a shed struck a nerve that almost flung one of my sneakers into my comrade’s bottom.In that shed was more than a few CD players and some discarded cabling, it was my little place of solitude. In there lay a community spirit that was kindled by dozens of dedicated, vibrant, enthusiastic and selfless volunteers each making their mark in their own unique way. As my guest and I approached the front door, I was thinking that the person next to me may just end up being one of those volunteers.My guest was serving a few purposes that night. One was to keep me company on what was a chilly Tuesday night in the studio and another purpose revolved around the fact that I was after help with my program and my well being. I have on many occasions savoured the changing countenances of my guests as I showed them around my station; highlighted the fun times had and spoke of the victories shared amongst our members, presenters and listeners. This night was no different.The time was 2001 and I had been experiencing some changes in my life including the fact that my program was losing its audience; I was fighting an uphill battle with anxiety issues; had to adapt to changing lifestyle conditions and was burdened with extra responsibilities.

In there lay a community spirit that was kindled by dozens of dedicated, vibrant, enthusiastic and selfless volunteers each making their mark in their own unique way

After an enjoyable night of music, chatter and trading war stories, I felt I had forged a new alliance and in the coming weeks I realized I had also swelled my army’s numbers. Soon I was smiling again, my tensions eased and I was busy every week answering listeners’ calls and managing a show jam packed with new voices and exciting content.That little shed had provided me with the opportunity to get myself back on track and I was soon filled with more energy than ever. A fair chunk of this energy also came from the stations already loyal members, presenters and committee of management. President Bob Rau explains how community radio can act like a crutch and or therapeutic avenue in dealing with personal demons:”Community Radio provides access to all! Those battling their ‘personal demons’ are able to have a certain anonymity on radio – which perhaps gives them an extra boost of self-confidence – no-one is watching and they can be whatever they want! The ‘privacy’ of the studio can combat a range of ‘demons’ starting with something as simple as extreme shyness!”All over Australia, in tucked away paddocks, claustrophobic office suites and humble tin sheds are community stations that prove distinctly that you can’t judge a book by its cover (or a radio station by its shed).I can honestly say that the studios and facilities are more than adequate.

Wedged in between a community hall and a tennis club, North West FM has been my home away from home for over 10 years and my friend’s remark certainly struck a chord

And take me to a station that has everything working. But really, does a station’s equipment and facilities make it? I don’t think so! As community broadcasters, our goal is to service our licensed broadcast area effectively and their needs are our priority.If you can run a station with six people and still manage to service and represent your community then does it matter if you only have one CD player and a few leaky taps. I’ve been to wealthy stations and spoke to committee members who possess everything a ‘small’ station could ever dream of but have little to no idea of what member and presenter cohesion is all about.There is nothing more fulfilling than stepping into that 4x12m shed and being surrounded by like minded people from all walks of life who help you create such a positive vibe. President Bob Rau explained to me what 3NOW does to keep its presenters away from each other’s throats:”North West FM maintains a friendly and co-operative ‘community’ at our station. Why? Maybe out training methods have a part to play? All new Presenters must take part in our formal Presenter training program; in this way no-one can point a finger and say there is favouritism! Even more important is the fact that during the time of this training program, trainees are able to get to know each other.””When it is time for the new trainee to attend the station for the first time alone, they are not ‘alone’ at all as they have made several friendships during the training and are already part of the bigger team! Every opportunity is taken to introduce current Presenters to all trainees – encouraging them to get to know each other. We believe this also instills confidence in the existing Presenter as it shows we think they are important enough to be specially introduced!”A cohesive group of presenters and what the station provides to its members and presenters is truly how it should be valued. We as presenters have the ability to foster a variety of positive qualities in our community and in turn help create a better environment to live in.And all this happens in a little tin shed.

By Chris Zerafa (Contributor and Editor) [http://www.planeturban.com]