In 1984 a most unlikely group of cohorts made up of officers and technicians from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) formerly from RAAF Base Butterworth in Malaysia now stationed at RAAF Base Richmond (NSW) who formed an unlikely alliance with active members of the Communist Party and members of Australia’s most right winged conservative political organisation, the Liberal Party who had some difficult agreeing on all issues. One such founding test presenter and member of the Society, Mr. Geoff Fanning, is at the time of this entry remains an active weekly presenter and Life Member of the Society.
The following year the Blue Mountains Public Broadcasting Society Inc was inaugurated in leura and on 25 August 1985 the Society was listed on the Australian Business Register. Initial test broadcasts were conducted over a period of a week that occurred four times a year until 1993. The transmission was set up in a very large abandoned home located in a gulley in Leura, small village east of Katoomba. Although the house was condemned and unfit for inhabitance, it was kindly provided by the Blue Mountains City Council after it was claimed in lieu of rates. It was later demolished after having served its time as the first home for Radio Blue Mountains. The station gained much interest over the next several years as it conducted numerous tests up to 1992. At this point the station had started to relocated to Katoomba in 1992 where the third and second last major transmission took place.
In June 1992, the then-Australian Broadcasting Tribunal granted a full-time community broadcasting license to the Society. Two studios were built by the technical students from the Technical Education College in former ambulance service station that held two ambulances at 7 Gang Gang St, Katoomba. Funding was provided by the Blue Mountains City Council, this was the old city council that came to end a year later in July 1993 when it was restructured to a modern performance-based council under the same name.
The society was offered a peppercorn (very small) rent for rooms in the lower section of the Nepean Community College which in turn had a peppercorn rent with TAFE NSW. The station remained there broadcasting continually until 9.05am on 25 October 2016, when it then moved to new studios in Block A at 25A-27 Parke St and recommenced broadcasting a few days later on Friday, 28 October.
On 8 January 1993 the society began its first official public broadcast to the community.
In 1994 the station purchased a satellite dish to enable it to receive the CBAA Community Radio Network programme feed, allowing Radio Blue Mountains 89.1 to broadcast 24 hours a day. The Society celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2007. In August 2008 the station obtained a licence to broadcast on the Internet and began implementing Internet streaming systems. In late 2016 the CBAA issued Internet Streaming licenses separate to broadcast license and the licence fees were backdated several years by APRA. Radio Blue Mountains accepted the streaming license and continued streaming.
Mr. Ken Quinell was elected President around in the early 2000s and ten years later Mr. Mark Horton became President/CEO. Both men moved the station forward in very different ways.
From the mid 2000s Mark Horton, supported by his then wife Tammy, presented a popular daily breakfast programme that was inclusive of all the community. They interviewed many local VIP’s and artists, including representatives from the local NSW Police Service, Rural Fire Service and health practitioners. After Tammy became ill, Mark continued with the breakfast show until mid-late 2014 when he himself became occupied with important matters outside of the station life that required his immediate attention.
In early 2015, the AGM was five months overdue and the station was in difficulty of staying operational. Moral was at its lowest point in many years and the 2014 AGM was held over to 21NOV 2015. None of the former management stood for re-electionand the membership had difficulty finding interest in a management committee. Less than 2 days before the AGM desperate efforts were made to canvass the community. A local entrepreneur who had shown interest in late 2014 and who offering an extensive business plan to the station was canvassed to manage the Society. Along with three other members, they were unchallenged at the AGM and a new management team formed. This consisted of Hereward Dundas-Taylor [President/Station Manager], Francis Dutton [Vice President], Willem Hendricksen [Secretary], and Colin Wilcox [Treasurer].
Under the leadership of the new President who accepted by default the full-time role of Station Manager, the station made a remarkable turn around in just 6 months. The exodus and bad press that dogged the station leading the station up the AGM not only stopped, but record levels of membership began to bolster the station; local programming more than doubled from 25 shows to well over 50; new volunteers came to the station; Radio Blue Mountains was nominated for 4 major awards – 2 local awards by the Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber [‘Business Leader’ – Hereward Dundas-Taylor and ‘Creative Industries’ – Radio Blue Mountains] and the Community Radio Broadcasting Authority of Australia nominated 2 personnel at the station as one of four finalist in two national award categories [‘Volunteer Contributor of the Year’ – Hereward Dundas-Taylor and ‘Youth Volunteer of the Year’ – Ben Scott-Smith, 13 years old at the time].
When the 2015 AGM was held 21NOV, just 8 months after the previous AGM, interest in the community broadcaster had grown so significantly that the management committee had been expanded from 4 to 9. Seven positions were created at the AGM but the members saw the need for this to be immediately expanded to 9. Within a week 2 additional positions were created and the majority of the Management Committee were new members who had joined since the 21MAR 2015. There were a few additions and subtractions in the Management Committee but for the majority of members throughout 2016 to April 2017 consisted of Hereward Dundas-Taylor [President], Julie Ankers [Vice President], Owen James [Secretary], Christine Law [Treasurer] and ordinary members being Jenny Coppock, (Aunty) Susan Tate ([Indigenous representative], Francis Dutton and Colin Wilcox.
In early 2016 the President learned that the state owned government building that has housed the station since it commenced officially broadcasting in 9JAN 1993 was to be sold. On the 25FEB 2016 the committee finally elected to separate the role of President and Station Manager after the President had found a suitable contender, however this fell through due to workload and it defaulted back to the President in less than 6 weeks. With the great support from TAFE NSW, a new lease was negotiated by the President with TAFE executives. The partial office move commenced in May 2016 and the studios followed late October that year.
Radio Blue Mountains was again nominated for 4 major awards – 3 local awards by the Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber [‘Business Leader’ – Hereward Dundas-Taylor; ‘Creative Industries’ – Radio Blue Mountains and ‘Inclusive Employer’ Radio Blue Mountains] and the Community Radio Broadcasting Authority of Australia again nominated 2 personnel at the station as one of five finalist in two national award categories [‘Volunteer Contributor of the Year’ – Hereward Dundas-Taylor and ‘Youth Volunteer of the Year’ – Ben Scott-Smith, 14 years old at the time] for their dedication to community radio.
The deferred 2016 AGM took place on 29 April 2017 and a new management committee was formed consisting of Hereward Dundas-Taylor [President], Travis Hackett [Voce President], Christine Law [Treasurer], Barbara Lepani [Secretary] with ordinary members Justin Morrissey and a vacancy was filled from the floor by Corin Shearston. The President gave four months notice to vacate the position of President at the 2017 AGM to be held later in the year.
Taking the position of President under conditions of uncertainty left by the exiting management, once again the station was facing turbulent waters as it seemed that everything was not as rosy as it had seemed. Management issues had to be dealt with and continue to present a challenge to the current Management Committee.
In late 2018 into 2019 the current team, under the current President Julie Ankers and with success stories such as the popularity of Ron Green’s Breakfast programs (which continue to gain popularity) and in new programs such as the brash of recent Outside Broadcasts, RBM is now on an upward path that seems to bode well for the future.
Radio Blue Mountains continues to go from strength to strength.