By Aleksandra Bliszczyk
Seymour community radio 103.9FM is less than two weeks away from moving to its new transmitter site after its former site was ransacked and destroyed by fire in July 2020.
The original studio with a 42-metre transmitter tower in Granite Park, built in 2014, was entered by four offenders who stole radio transmitters before setting the building alight, causing extensive damage.
The volunteer-run radio station has been fundraising since the arson attack, having reached $41,000 of its $50,000 goal.
Seymour FM president Ian McOwan said although they were almost at the top of what he thought was ‘a big hill to climb’, he was hoping a final donations push would help fund the move from their temporary site in Kings Park.
“To date that [money] has provided us with the new facility,” he said.
“[The final $9000] gives us a bit of flexibility greater than what we have.”
Despite the set-back, the radio station has been broadcasting live nonstop since the arson attack.
Mr McOwan explained that aside from the rebuild, which was now largely paid for, dismantling, transporting and reinstalling the equipment, sound proofing and transmitters – while keeping programs on air – was a delicate and costly process.
“My gut feeling is that once we get back to our normal transmitter, which will hopefully be in the next week or two … I’m guessing that will provide a little bit of impetus for people to dig into their pockets again,” he said.
Seymour FM has been fundraising online through GiveNow and in town, and has submitted successful grant applications, including $4000 from the Australian Rail Track Corporation, as part of the Inland Rail Community Sponsorships and Donations program.
Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the grant was a small gesture that had the potential to make a big difference to the not-for-profit station.
“The Inland Rail Community Sponsorships and Donations program provides small grants for community-initiated projects that contribute to wellbeing, prosperity or sustainability in the regions where Inland Rail will operate,” he said.
“Community groups and associations make an enormous contribution to the social connection and wellbeing of our regions.”
The majority of funding has come from residents in and around Seymour, who have donated privately or through collection points.
“There’s been some generous benefactors [and] there are collection boxes, which have been in variety of businesses in Seymour,” Mr McOwan said.
“We’re very pleased and happy with the support from both sponsors, business and individuals that make up the Seymour region.
The new transmitter has a wider geographical reach than the temporary site, meaning the station will be able to broadcast to more listeners, which Mr McOwan said was essential.
He said the fundraiser had given the team a new sense of purpose and connection to the town.
“It’s been a very interesting exercise,” he said.
“I’ve seen other stations do fundraisers, quite often it is when something goes horribly wrong, in our case it was the fire.
“But some of the outpouring and the size of the donations we’ve been given along the way really is vote of confidence from the community.”
Donations can be made online at www.givenow.com.au/seymourfm.