Steven Spink says community radio is “the most fun”.Photo: Pictures: Leanne Santoro
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BREAKFAST radio announcer Steven Spink can’t remember the last time he had a sleep in.
“I have to set the alarm for 5am every single morning no matter what,” he said.
“It was particularly hard at first, to get out of bed so early, but you just have to get used to it.
“I think having three different alarms helps.”
Steven has worked the dreaded 6am shift for Wagga community radio station 107.1 2AAA FM for almost three years.
has a voice that would be familiar to countless Riverina residents and
an infectious energy that seems to transmit through the microphone.
he has dabbled in other vocations throughout his career spanning almost
three decades, including television, photography and computers, for as
long as he can remember Steven has had “a very real passion for radio”.
“When I was growing up in the 70s, before personal computers and
Playstations were common, I would listen to the radio every chance I
“I always wanted to work on the radio but in the end it was a matter of luck that I actually got into the business.”
Steven moved to Wagga from Adelaide 20 years ago.
spent the first 10 years working at commercial radio stations as an
on-air announcer and program director, followed by a two-year stint at
Prime TV. He now considers himself a local.
“While at Prime I was
offered the job of regional program manager for ABC Riverina and so I
went from making commercials at a TV station to a decidedly
non-commercial role at the public broadcaster.
“After about three
years at the ABC I decided I wanted to work more with computers and
less with radio, so I resigned, planning to take a few months holiday
while I decided exactly what I wanted to do.
“While I was thinking
about the meaning of life, David Font at 2AAA asked me if I’d be
interested in doing some volunteer work at the station and it was only
a couple of months later that breakfast presenter and old friend Simon
Smith decided he was moving on.
“So within only a couple of months at 2AAA I found myself again presenting a breakfast program.
“It feels like I’ve come full circle being back in community radio where I started out more than 20 years ago.”
Steven said he enjoys his job immensely and his three-hour daily shift consists “mostly of fun”.
the good old days (20 years ago) you’d have to be at work an hour
before going on air to do all the things that needed doing.
days with the use of computers, music on hard drives and the internet
for information, it takes much less time to prepare for my morning
shift and 15 minutes is usually all I need.
“Before I go to air at
6am I read The Daily Advertiser to see what local news I’m going to
use, then I look over the Sydney Morning Herald’s website to see what’s
happening further afield.
“Then I basically have three hours of fun till my program finishes at 9am.
“People often ask me how I sit in a small room on my own and sound like I’m enjoying myself.
guess I like to pretend my best friend’s in the studio with me and
we’re playing some of our favourite music and chatting about the day’s
events. It’s as simple as that.”
107.1 2AAA FM is Wagga’s only
community radio station. It services the wider Wagga area including
Tarcutta and has approval to extend its coverage to Coolamon, Gundagai
“Our philosophy is to provide an easy listening music
program to the adults of Wagga and surrounds and I think the station
does it very well.
“Younger listeners have the commercial stations
and the ABC’s triple j, and adults that want mainly news and
information can get it from the ABC.
“We fill in the gap in the middle.”
non-profit broadcaster operates from its studios on the corner of Young
and Coleman Streets and relies entirely on volunteers to survive.
“Being a community station, we couldn’t stay alive without volunteers or donations.
“Some people might think we survive mainly on government funding which couldn’t be further from the truth.
about two per cent of our income is from government grants, the rest
comes from donations and memberships from the public and from those
local businesses who support and sponsor us.
While the station has a roster of almost 30 volunteers, Steven said they are always on the lookout for more.
and every one of our volunteers deserves a medal for all the time and
effort they put into making sure 2AAA continues to run smoothly. Some
of our volunteers have been with the station since its inception 25
years ago, they deserve a gold medal. The volunteers also make sure
that the station is live and local from 6am to midnight seven days a
week. No other Wagga station can top that.”
Despite having enjoyed his previous radio jobs in Wagga, Steven said he’s always felt that community radio is “the most fun”.
commercial radio there’s the obvious need to look after the bottom line
and at the ABC you have to be (quite rightly) extremely impartial with
everything you do, whereas at 2AAA I can just be me.”
I’m enjoying myself tremendously. I also enjoy the fact that I can
spend part of my day doing things that aren’t related to radio.”
So what does the future hold for community stations like 2AAA?
long as they can continue to attract new volunteers to replace those
who retire and those who move on, I believe the future is very bright
for community radio stations.
“Apart from the great music, our
listeners appreciate that there’s a local talking to them, not someone
in a far-off studio who has no idea what it’s like to live in our part
of the world.
“As time goes by and the commercial networks become
bigger and bigger and less local, I think stations like 2AAA will
become even more popular.”
- The History
radio station FM 107.1 2AAA had its beginnings in 1978 when a handful
of people gathered to discuss the idea of establishing the Riverina’s
very first community station.
Wagga man Stuart Carter is given
credit for this brainchild. Stuart represented the Student’s Union of
the Riverina College of Advanced Education and presented the group of
locals with a working paper titled “Community Radio IS People.”
first public meeting to discuss the proposed idea was held in
September, 1978 in Wagga’s council chambers. It was attended by 75
people. After submitting a plan of action to council, test
transmissions were conducted at their temporary premises in the
Australian Arcade in 1980.
Programs included classical, rock,
country, folk, opera, ballet and jazz, as well as music from various
international groups presented in their own native language.
licence hearing was then held in October and FM107.1 2AAA was granted
an official licence to operate by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal.
The first authorised live broadcast took place on Friday, July 31
in 1981 – it ran for 54 hours straight from Friday until Monday.
station relocated to its current premises on the corner of Young and
Coleman Streets in 1982 and continues to rely on support from
volunteers for its survival.