The History of OCR FM Community Radio
Colac Community Radio Group Inc. was established in 1991 by Group President Anthony Prytz, after an advertisement in ‘The Colac Herald’ was placed calling a meeting for public expressions of interest to start a new radio station in Colac.
25 interested individuals attended that meeting, held at the old Adult Education Centre in Murray Street.
The station’s first temporary studios were set up above an architect office in Murray Street (for approximately 2 months at no charge to the group) so members could become familiar with borrowed equipment in readiness for the group’s first test broadcast that year. The station then moved to 168b Murray Street Colac, above a local sports store, for a “peppercorn” rent negotiated with the sports store owner at the time Don Nicholson. The station became officially incorporate in 1994 (A0029392T)
After several moves to various shop fronts the studio is now located at Shop 6, 86 Murray Street in the Tenpin Bowling Arcade. 2009 saw technical problems plague OCR FM causing it to be off air for periods of up to several weeks at a time while transmitters and equipment were repaired.
A new executive in 2010 worked tirelessly to promote community radio in the area, while at the same time applying for grant funds to upgrade and repair equipment to improve the broadcast signal.
In 2012 OCR FM began broadcasting in stereo using new studio to transmitter link equipment. New microphones, headphones and equipment which connected the phone directly to the studio desk now allows presenters to take phone interviews live to air without losing sound quality or clarity.
First Test Broadcast
The first test broadcast occurred in 1991 using the frequency of 99.1 MHz FM for a period of 1 week (6am-12am) with the transmitter being shut down each night at midnight.
The first test broadcast was to gather interest from the listening public, and was quite successful, with public donations given throughout the broadcast in exchange for “Bribes to Subscribe” such as CD’s, books and store vouchers that the station members and a few businesses had donated.
Once a Colac studio was established the OCR FM committee set about involving even more volunteers in their licence area and began planning for satellite studios in surrounding towns. A committee of dedicated volunteers in the Apollo Bay area set about establishing a studio in Apollo Bay. Bryan Dwyer was a driving force, having been involved in community radio elsewhere previously. He completed radio training with OCR FM and began travelling to Colac weekly to present ‘Sunday at the Bay’ an afternoon program from the Colac studio, bringing news and music from Apollo Bay. After many months of planning meetings and working bees, a studio was created at the Youth Club in Apollo Bay. The Apollo Bay OCR FM members were trained up to use the radio equipment and on Wednesday 25th August 2010 at 7pm, OCR FM broadcast its first live program from the new Apollo Bay studio (A Touch of Nostalgia with Allen Hokin). The studio successfully ran a number of different programs live each week until June 2013, when the Apollo Bay radio presenters decided to form their own committee and attempt to start up their own community radio station under the name Apollo Bay Radio Inc. This caused the closure of the OCR FM Apollo Bay studio in October 2013. After 18 months of testing from new sites and applying to the ACMA, OCR FM recommenced broadcasting into Apollo Bay on 88.7 FM frequency in February 2015.
OCR FM today
OCR FM has had hundreds of community members involved with its production as volunteers over the past 30 years. The Colac studio is located at Shop 6 in the Tenpin Bowl arcade in Murray Street, with an on air and recording studio as well as administration area. Volunteer presenters of the station currently hail from around the listening area including Colac, Alvie, Camperdown, Beeac, Ballarat, Carlisle River, Birregurra and Geelong. The station currently broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with locally generated programming. A computer based music rotation of themed selections (affectionately known as Autopilot) supplements the locally produced live programs. The community radio station relies on the support of members, fundraising, grant funds, sponsors and donations to cover operating costs.
Popular fundraising activities, including Spicks and Specks themed music trivia nights, Improvaganza comedy evenings, movie screenings and live Radio Plays supported by the Colac Players not only raise funds to support the station but involve various members of the community, with prizes often donated by local businesses.
Outdoor Broadcasts are extremely important to OCR FM as a means of taking the station out into the public. With new outdoor broadcasting equipment including a laptop, mixing desk, microphones, USB internet and Outdoor Broadcast trailer we are able to go anywhere and produce a program which can be streamed directly to the studio for broadcast or alternatively recorded for later broadcast. OCR FM run around 30 outdoor broadcasts a year.
Thanks to a web development grant, OCR FM have also moved into the digital age giving easy access for the public to contact the station and allowing listeners to access the broadcast all over Australia and globally through online streaming.