TAMWORTH’S community radio station has hit back at claims it has turned its back on country music and that it may even be forced to close its doors.
New 2YOU-FM board president Errol Bourne and newly installed operations manager George Frame have reassured Tamworth area listeners the station is going nowhere and planned format changes will actually secure its future.
As for the country music that’s been the backbone of its programming for the past 30 years, it’s not going anywhere either.
Mr Bourne said the rumours circulated by some of the presenters unhappy with the changes to the on-air format had now culminated in a petition suggesting country music would be cut and the station was in trouble.
“There’s a lot of misinformation in the community – that we’re going to drop all country music and that the station could end up going from Tamworth and the broadcasting done out of Sydney,” he said.
“We want people to contact us if they have any concerns – not listen to this Chinese whispers stuff.”
Mr Frame, who has vast experience in television and radio broadcasting, confirmed there would be changes to the programming – as soon as possible – but it was necessary to improve the financial situation of the station.
He said they were acting on the results of two surveys, one by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), in the past few years that showed the current programming wasn’t appealing to the most important target markets.
“There’s a need to reorganise (it) so it appeals to listeners first and sponsors second,” Mr Frame said.
This will have the greatest impact on the morning line-up, which features several hours of traditional country – more of the bush ballad style.
The new plan is for a “country brekky” show from 6am to 7am before easy-listening programming – hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s – mixed with country songs, but of a more contemporary genre, up until 4pm.
In the 4pm to 7pm “drive time” period, the “super hits” from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s will hit the airwaves, before specialised country programming takes over again.
It’s designed to give the station broader appeal to its audience and even increase the number of young listeners, “the future of the station”.
Mr Bourne said the station’s new committee, which he conceded had gone through a rocky period of internal power struggles and resignations in the past few years, was also committed to increasing the number of young people involved in the running of the station.
“We want to foster young people to get involved ... because where’s the next generation of listeners going to come from if we don’t?” he said.
Mr Frame said the changes were nothing to fear and the majority of presenters were on board and enthusiastic about the future.
For the “handful” who weren’t, he said, it was a simple case of economics: “Something had to be done or in six months we would have started going backwards (financially).”
Mr Bourne said “great things could be achieved” and he was confident the new board was finally “going in the same direction”.