Out FM president Sean Crellin has called upon the gay and lesbian community to throw its weight behind the station in its application for a full-time AM licence.

There has to be at some point some deliberate decision on the part of the community as a whole, and by that, I mean the institutional stakeholders of the community -“ like Mardi Gras -“ that they really do want an allocated media service, Crellin told SSO this week.

And they’re going to have to come to some sort of arrangement vis-a-vis underwriting the capital costs before it will happen, Crellin added.

However, even if the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) call for applications for the AM licence within the year, it would be another 18 months to two years before the station would be operational.

Mardi Gras CEO Kelly Gardiner said that any and all requests from the community are looked at and they would certainly contemplate a serious application from Out FM if approached. Obviously we consider any requests that come from any community organisation or member that requires assistance and we’ve got, for example, a community development fund which is open at the moment.

Gardiner pointed out however, that insofar as funding was concerned, it was common knowledge that all community organisations were experiencing a tight period.

It will become increasingly difficult for community organisations to support other community initiatives, she said. I should also add that it’s hard approaching organisations which are already hurting, and there are a lot of people hurting at the moment.

Crellin said that he felt that it was in the best interest of organisations like Mardi Gras to support Out FM, particularly since he believed that Mardi Gras had been affected by the absence of a live radio service during the 2002 Mardi Gras festival.

Gardiner admitted that not having Out FM hurt a number of people during the festival, but not just Mardi Gras.

Well, I think that we all missed out not having a radio station during Mardi Gras, because it adds to the excitement, she said.

There’s an immediacy to the medium which you don’t get anywhere else. When we wanted to get out information that the launch was still on -“ despite the hail that afternoon -“ we couldn’t do it.

Crellin told the Star that their immediate concern was to broadcast the Sydney 2002 Gay Games. They are negotiating to use a special FM band events frequency which was recently used for Chinese New Year.

We’ve managed to convince the ABA that they should allow us to do a few days of test broadcasts, Crellin explained.

We originally applied for a licence to broadcast the Gay Games last year and it’s only relatively recently that we’ve been able to get to a point with the ABA where we can really sit down and look at transmission options that they’ll accept. So we’re looking at a service that will cover the eastern suburbs and probably up to Dee Why on the north shore.

Bev Lange, Sydney 2002 co-chair, told the Star that she was enthusiastic about the idea of a radio broadcast during the games.

Having Out FM do a broadcast would be a great way to promote our sponsors and the cultural program, much in the same way Out FM assisted Mardi Gras, but until we see a formal proposal, we won’t have an idea, dollar-wise, of how much money will be involved.

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