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The Rock-itt : June 2010
Radio Northern Beaches began broadcasting to the peninsula more than twenty eight years ago. So long ago in fact that the exact details of the station's beginning have been lost in time, with conflicting stories being traded between those long standing members still involved. Of course, many have long since moved on, what is clear, though is that the station still has the same objectives it began with all those years ago, to give a voice to the local community. Broadcasting for many years from Narrabeen School, Radio Northern Beaches has long existed on the enthusiastic efforts, time and angst of an intrepid band of volunteers who sustain the station to this day. This first stage of the station's life, which in fact lasted for nearly two decades, saw many disparate but like minded souls come together for the common good, some with a previous history in media, many with none. From the early eighties on, the station would find its place on the peninsula broadcasting a smorgasbord of local content. Many local musicians would first be broadcast over the station's airwaves and a series of concerts from this time remain on cassette, a format that has ironically not worn as well as the station. Politicians, writers, artists, thespians and more, all came through a revolving door and out of residents' radios. Along the way, many insurmountable hurdles have been overcome, often through sheer collective will. The worst of these was undoubtedly the station being forced out of their longstanding home at Narrabeen School in the first half of the last decade. With little in the way of resources and the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding almost from scratch ahead, this could easily have been the end of Radio Northern Beaches. It would be an understatement to say that this ushered in a long period of uncertainty. A knight in shining armour arrived in the shape of the Belrose Bowling Club, then in the process of building their fine new facility on Forest Way, an amazing offer to utilise space in the Club's building was a saviour. Far from stopping broadcasting until they could occupy new studio, the station carried on, from a small porta-cabin in the club's car park. This is where I first encountered radio Northern Beaches, in the middle of winter, in a freezing cramped cabin whilst a host of volunteers completed the new studios after the Belrose Bowling Club benevolently provided the exterior building for the station to use. There was still a herculean effort ahead, from obvious building tasks, like putting in windows and doors, to more esoteric concerns, like sound proofing studios and installing mixing desks. For an entirely volunteer workforce this was a mammoth undertaking, with many qualified people giving up nearly all their free time until the studios were finished. What was intended to take six months, through a combination of the sheer size of the task involved and the lack of the finances to complete it, would end up taking nearly two years. By the time the new studios were opened by the venerable Bronwyn Bishop in the spring of 2007, Radio Northern Beaches was as a collective both elated and exhausted. Many members had fallen by the wayside through attrition and the station's finances were in a terminal state -- could it be at the very stage of rebirth, RNB would finally fold? And so began the modern era at the station, characterised in its infancy by tremendous financial pressures, some of which remain to this day but through the remarkable defiance of the board of directors marshalled by Chairman Geoff Williams, the peninsula's only community station persevered. Though it seemed the light at the end of the tunnel would never come, things gradually turned around. Geoff would finally stand down as chairman in October last year, though he remains an avid supporter and broadcaster at the station. He was replaced by well known local representative, David Barr, who had decided to hang up his political spurs and pick up a microphone. With the worst of days over, there is a new vigour at Radio Northern Beaches; each workshop held by the station yields more and more new blood. A whole raft of new presenters and ideas has lifted the station in recent times. This has had a galvanising effect on the station's old guard who are finally seeing the stability and progress they fought so long and hard for. With a raft of new initiatives, programs, exciting new technology and new prominence in the community, it has represented so loyally for nearly thirty years, things have never looked brighter at Radio Northern Beaches. Outside broadcasting in 1990 New studios at Belrose in 2004 New studio Belrose in 2005 Radio Northern beaches 2006