2WCR FM History 1997-2014.
Mal Penman and family instigated the beginning of the station. Mal had a background in radio having trained with and worked for the PMGs Department in audio and visual media and having owned a retail outlet in Coona selling and repairing both audio and visual electronic equipment. With the interest of like minded people a committee was formed between 1997 and early 1998. Equipment was begged and borrowed to enable a studio to be developed in the Penman’s building at Crane St in Coonabarabran. By July 1998 WAR FM became a reality and by August 1st 1998 the first broadcast was made.
Rob Dean was the president at the time and speaks of the early sharing of the WAR FM name with Gilgandra and Coonamble, owing to transmission requirements imposed upon us by the regulatory authority. He also recollects that the Shire Council was very supportive with grants and donations. MAX FM in Narrabri offered a great deal of practical support with programming. The Penmans also contributed with training, including attending TAFE courses to further boost their knowledge of announcing, writing and production involved with community radio. Others also attended these courses as the years went by, including courses at Coonamble TAFE. The people with this expertise then were able to train others.
Many voluntary hours, involving both time and money, had been devoted to installing equipment, setting up suitable broadcast facilities and obtaining sufficient sponsorship to enable the station to broadcast. In the early days all transmission was relayed from the CBF, but as more local people became confident, live transmissions steadily increased.
Some early announcers:
1st August. First broadcast.
Some early announcers:
Ron Soussa – Timewarp.
Rev Bowman – Morning Show With Rev. Bow.
Macca – Community Announcements.
Mal Unicombe – Highwayman.
Chris Walton – Coona Times, Gardening.
Robyn Rowbothom Morning Tea.
Melinda – RDA.
Granny Annie – Annie in the Afternoon.
Mark Denenish, Bimbo Wark, Terry McArtney-Sports Announcers.
Aileen Bell – Artsing Around.
Sarah Baglee – I Said You Listen.
Peter Knight – Country Music.
Jenny Bethart – Health With Jen.
David Grant – Stock Report.
Other announcers were:
The Phantom, Adrian Holder, Sean Armstrong, Rita & Olga, Rick and Ian Rowbothom, Ray Neale, Steven White. Chico Roll, Chris Evans, Rob Dean, Menzies Lucas, Paul White. Finlay McArtney and Liz Penman.
Some later announcers were; Brian Makay, Marion Hardy, Gouda Fowler, Jane Harding and Richard Savage. Chris and Barry McElhinney, Tara Vallette, Nat Dewar.
WAR-FM provided 24 hour coverage on 99.5 through satellite and local production. We were able to cover various musical interests, sport, local politics, community announcements, rural reports, school news, local and national news and weather, emergency warnings, community events, sponsorships and interviews. Local identities like Fed Watson and Malcolm Hartley were interviewed and also travelling celebrities were invited to, ‘the studio on the highway,’ People such as; Pauline Hanson, Steve Smith, Sara Storer, May Pang, Brian Cadd, Julia Zamaro, Little Pattie and Jon English to name just a few who have been interviewed live either in the studio or over the phone.
A more suitable transmission site was required and over time facilities were established on Bingee Grumble Mountain, beginning in 1999. A shipping container was sourced and then transported to the site by McEvoys. It was then fitted out with all the required gear. Aerials, micro-wave links and suitable hardware were installed at both ends which made for better and more reliable signal strength.
A new ‘store front’ identity was established in the Coonabarabran CTC building in the main street in the year 2000. The transmission studio was still located at Crane St. This year also saw the purchase of the OB van, an old caravan found in a paddock at Bathurst. After transportation to Coona it was then fitted out and painted by the Overs and Chris Chate, Skywatch provided the signage. Outside broadcasts were regularly conducted at the local agricultural shows, Bunny Bazaar, local promotions, Relay for Life, sporting events, The Parkes Elvis Festival and the Country Music Festival in Tamworth.
2004. Licence requirements changed and the 3 towns previously mentioned could now stand on their own. This meant a change in name to 2WCR FM, now we could have the 2 in our title.
New premises were always a consideration and over the middle and later ‘noughties’ testing was carried out in many locations around town. Eventually the Showground cottage showed some potential, was offered to us in late 2006 early 2007 when 2WCR-FM became tenants. Much work needed to be done to convert a house into a studio. Working bees were conducted where painting and basic renovations were carried out. Equipment was moved and stored.
Monthly meetings, production work, and administration was conducted from the site, though transmission continued to be at Crane St.
In late 2009 our transmission facility at Crane St became unavailable and we needed to move all station equipment to the Showground cottage and establish a new studio. While maintaining a 24hr. presence on the air, through new and innovative computer links. Slowly a new studio started to take shape.
Over a period of 7 months we; dismantled, transported, reassembled, cleaned, mowed, trimmed, drilled, screwed, painted, cut holes, hung doors, rewired, rearranged, disgarded, sorted, decorated, purchased, applied, wrote, met, discussed, informed, sewed, hung, installed, encouraged, assisted and with the help of a lot of local people and businesses we were able to begin live, though limited, transmission from the new studio in August 2010.
We consolidated our station in our new building and over a satisfying period of time we were able to create a very workable situation. We have endeavoured to upgrade and maintain facilities, hardware and software and we feel comfortable in our surroundings.
In 2013 we allocated money to the upgrading off our Outside Broadcast van. A complete paint job on the outside. New signage that includes sponsorship. A somewhat improved and more comfortable interior that allows for better places for interviews especially. All of this will be an ongoing project and we hope to have it completed in 2014.
We at present continue to achieve that which was envisioned back in 1997, a radio station that could be a vital and valuable part of the Coonabarabran Shire, ‘Warrumbungle Shire’ community.
We continue to offer the services previously mentioned through our 24hr coverage which includes 10-12 hours of live local production per day through our 15 local adult volunteer announcers and the many schoolchildren who contribute through their school’s show.
Over the time of our relocation and establishment we have had tremendous support from many individuals and businesses in the local community. It is what community radio should be about and we are most appreciative of this support.