From midday on Monday 26 April, inner city residents will be able to tune in to Beat FM 87.6, Sydney’s first full-time radio station aimed at the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

The station is being run by Ross Higham (a.k.a. Rose Leaf), Rodney Hogan (a.k.a. Victoria Barracks), DJ David Hiscock and Chris Ralph, who was the initial investor. The group was awarded the licence in November 2003, a licence formerly held by the defunct Rhythm FM.

The content is going to be very gay, Higham told Sydney Star Observer. You’ve got two old drag queens, an old DJ and an old poof. We’re not going anywhere but the gay market.

Beat FM will be heard on a narrowcast service, which reaches a smaller geographical area than broadcast transmissions. The signal will cover Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Newtown, Erskineville, Redfern, Moore Park, Mascot, Maroubra and the City, and an area from Pyrmont and Balmain through to Annandale.

Rodney Hogan told the Star the scope of Rhythm FM’s transmitters makes the station perfectly placed for the gay and lesbian market. Hogan was formerly a station manager at Rhythm FM and a presenter for the defunct Free FM, but the group has no other connection to Out FM or Free FM. I think it’s just luck that it fell in our laps actually, Hogan said.

Narrowcast services are required by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to target special interest groups, and the Beat FM licence specifies the gay and lesbian community. The radio station will play dance music and feature regular programs including a breakfast show, a drive-time show, a Friday night live drag segment and entertainment reviews.

The launch of the station follows the winding up of Out FM Incorporated in 2003, a community group which struggled alongside rival Free FM to obtain an FM broadcasting licence from 1997 to 2001.

The narrowcast service is able to feature advertising content, a notable difference from the broadcast licence once sought by Out and Free. The Beat FM organisers are hoping advertising will fund the station.

Former Out FM president Sean Crellin welcomed the station but remained cautious. It’s a good thing. The more media I suppose that purports to being gay and lesbian the better -¦ [but] it’s not the same as running a non-profit community organisation.

Whether featuring advertising or not, Beat FM is required to keep it pink according to the terms of their licence. The group hope to move into the old Out FM offices on Oxford Street by next week. The first broadcast on Monday 26 April will be a six-hour party, with guests including Jenny Morris, Atlas and Courtney Act.

More Info phone 9550 0011.

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