A further open letter to the Board of WMAfm
18 April, 2013
It was with dismay that I read the “Open letter to the board of WMAfm” and of the sacking of Martin Myles.
I joined WMA back in late 2009, having previously project-managed the move by Highlands FM from their old studio in Kyenton to their new, purpose-built studios in Woodend, including architectural planning and planning and installation of all electrical and electronic studio and link equipment.
Arriving at my “new” station, WMA, I intially worked as a presenter. I soon took responsibility for negotiating with the ACMA to move our transmitter from on top of the Old Gaol building to its present location on the Optus Tower behind the Smallgoods Factory. The negitiations involved detailed equipment and signal coverage planning, as well as detailed and complex discussions with antenna and other equipment suppliers, and with ACMA engineers.
I project-mananged the move, supervised site, antenna and electrical installers, and did the installation and commissioning of all transmitting equipment. Our new site gave much improved coverage, especially to Maldon, but created a few black spots. I restarted negotiations with the ACMA, resulting in approval to go from 100 watts to 1,000 watts, and for new antennas. Among other things, I drove over most of Mount Alexander Shire doing detailed mapping of signal coverage to support the upgrade case. This upgrade was well in train when I went on assignment teaching Army Signals Officers for two weeks in March-April 2012.
During this time I received an email stating that the Comittee had been speaking with an antenna installer who offered to take on the project due to cost constraints. I was not invited to that Committee meeting, and was offered no chance to modify – as I would readily have – the project to fit a reduced budget.
The Committee, having rejected my plan agreed with by the ACMA, asked me to order antennas from a different supplier than the one who had been most helpful in assisting with my upgrade design.
I considered the actions of the Committe to show disloyalty, lack of appreciation for the hundreds of hours work I had freely contributed, an unprofessional approach to volunteer management and a frankly incomprehensible decision. The disloyalty was especially galling, as I had been a sympathietic supporter of the station during two periods of considerable internal strife and antagonism.
You may be aware that the station is currently not broadcasting in stereo – this is incomprehensible. It was working just fine when I left the station. I made an enquiry and received a confused and nonsensical explanation about why it could not happen: the “switch” back to stereo is less than five mintues’ work.
One reader, replying to the previous Open Letter, stated that “without the old guard, there would be no WMA“. This is quite true – but WMA has a *Community* licence, not one granted to a clique who regard it as “their” station, no matter how hard they have struggled to resurrect Community Radio here in Castlemaine.
I had enquired of Martin about rejoining last month, as “things were different now”, but his sacking confirms my fears that the station has not changed since my departure. WMA will not get my offer of a program, nor will it get the benefit of my considerable expertise so long as the station continues as it has for much, much too long.
Ian Batty, M.Ed.