Airwave goodbye?

OAK FM commentators Des Lonergan and Ian Gambold are facing uncertainty. Picture: GLENN HENDERSON
OAK FM commentators Des Lonergan and Ian Gambold are facing uncertainty. Picture: GLENN HENDERSON

RADIO coverage of the Ovens and Murray is under threat with Wangaratta community station OAK FM told it has to spend thousands of dollars to improve its coverage and keep it on-air on the Border.

Vision Australia Radio, which relays the OAK FM coverage to Albury-Wodonga through its Border station, has questioned the quality of the broadcast signal.

OAK FM station manager Mike Culley said Vision Australia told him yesterday that $13,000 needed to be spent to improve the broadcast with new cables having to be installed, but then a further $7700 would have to spent annually on equipment charges.

“Whilst the $13,000 is a daunting figure we could do it somehow or other, but it’s the $7700 each year after which bothers us,” Culley said.

Vision Australia manager Peter Butler, who told the station in January that he was not happy with the broadcast quality, did not return The Border Mail’s calls yesterday.

However, Culley said Butler had told him yesterday they would be willing to allow some leeway in finding the money.

“They are prepared to let us start the season as is and for as long as it takes to get it up and running, obviously not six months, but they are prepared to let us start the season, providing we commit to this,” Culley said.

How the money will be found is to be determined, but unless an agreement can be reached the viability of OAK FM is at risk.

“It would definitely threaten our existence, there’s no two-ways about it,” Culley said.

“Our major source of income is the football and it’s treated us very well in years past and it would jeopardise our future.”

Mr Culley said it was disappointing Vision Australia appeared to not understand the impact of the football coverage.

Ovens and Murray general manager Tom O’Connor planned to speak to Mr Butler and stress to him the value of Vision Australia airing the football.

“I’ve put in a call to Vision Australia to Peter Butler to get their side of what’s going on and put across to him the important role OAK plays with our league on an annual basis,” O’Connor said.

“They provide a great service to the area, broadcasting local footy and from our point of view it’s pretty important to listen to matches and hear scores.”