Wilcannia: ‘We are real bush radio’
Recently radioinfo shared the story of Wilcannia River Radio after reporter Kim Napier called in during a road trip from Adelaide to Sydney. This is part two of Kim’s profile on the radio station that is ‘Keeping It Alive’ in the middle of the desert.
As we read in part one Wilcannia is a small town located within the Central Darling Shire in north-western New South Wales, 958 k’s from Sydney.
Its population is around 600 with 77% of Aboriginal descent.
When I arrived DJ Lil’ Smurf, also know as Synitta Adams was on-air.
DJ Smurf has been announcing at 103.1 for a year.
It was Wilcannia resident and one of the station’s first announcer’s, Smacka that arranged the interview and he was also keen to chat.
“We’ve got a few different DJ’s who all have their own style and music and everyone sits at home and listens to them during the week from 7 in the morning until 7 at night. The only way they know what’s happening in town is by listening to the radio.
“If something is written down not a lot of people will read it but we can share it on the radio and tell everyone to pass the word around.”
And the word must have got around.
DJ Smurf had also interviewed me on-air about why I was in Wilcannia and while chatting with Smacka on a bench outside the station, current announcer Brendan Adams (right) pulls up in his car and says he wants to chat but he’s in a hurry.
So back into the station we went to the air conditioned studio where DJ Smurf was pumping out the tunes.
Brendan has been working at the station since October 2015 but is no stranger to the microphone.
“I actually began broadcasting in Townsville 34 years ago at a station called 4K1G.
“I went and got an Associate Diploma in Media Arts. So I gained a lot of experience in radio and also in film.
“Music is what I love the most though and everyone knows there is one genre that I stick to and no one argues with me, it’s the 80’s. My favourite is Prince.
Lucky for Brendan he gets to share his love of the 80’s with the town because the announcer’s get to play whatever they like, but it was slightly different when he was working in Townsville.
“The Aboriginal Media Association was just kicking off and we needed to promote and inject a lot of our own cultural music but once we had done that we could choose to play the music we liked as well.
All the announcers at 103.1 are indigenous and Brendan explains they pick specific qualities in their staff they want reflected on air.
“DJ Smurf has a connection with the young people, we’ve got language and culture, Smacka in his DJ days was into sports, wasn’t much of a player but he loved sports,” he laughs.
“We’d even go along to the local comp and do an outside broadcast.”
At this point and given the station’s lack of resources I was keen to know how they pulled off an OB. As we know even with the best equipment something often goes wrong.
“Yeah, we had the minimal requirements. Unfortunately, when you are in a remote community resources are hard to come by and it if was easier to come by, then you need the quality and our dollars outweigh our budget. But somehow we made it happen.
“We are real bush radio.”
And while we all have a giggle about being resourceful at OB’s when equipment doesn’t work or talent is late, it’s at this point Brendan wants to share what he is most proud of.
A finalist certificate from the Community Broadcasting Association Awards in the Excellence in Indigenous Broadcasting category.
For a young radio station to be a finalist up against great radio stations, is a proud moment.
“I have loved the journey. To see this radio station, go from having volunteers to now having funding to employ eight indigenous is what I love more than anything.”