Community broadcasters around the country have faced unprecedented challenges over the past two years after multiple rolling lockdowns. Stations in Victoria, like Woiwurrung/Bacchus Marsh based station 98.5 AppleFM, were particularly affected by social distancing and other restrictions.
In 2020, AppleFM received a CBF Development & Operations grant to set up their Outdoor Broadcasts on the Move program. AppleFM wanted to be a more visible and prominent part of the community, using outdoor broadcasts (especially the weekly local football game) to build a more diverse listenership base, and attract new members and sponsors. The grant contributed to the purchase and fit out of the OB van.
We spoke to AppleFM’s Terecia Page to talk about how their station made it through—and how they managed to convert a broadcast van during the most recent lockdown.
How did COVID-19 impact AppleFM?
Lots of sponsors did it tough during COVID, so a lot of them dropped off. For the ones that did stay on, we offered them payment plans. The CBF grant enabled us to buy equipment that meant presenters could produce programs remotely.
You have a new broadcasting van?
Yes, we got the branding of our new van all completed through lockdown. We can now fit out the inside and get out into the community and do what we love and what we’re good at.
How did you get the van ready through lockdown?
We purchased it just after the end of the first major lockdown coming into 2021. And then we had to get the roadworthy and take out all the seats to get approved by VicRoads. In May our sponsor Fully Promoted (a branded apparel business) was able to operate through lockdown so it’s all ready. Since then it’s just stayed at my house until we could reopen and get to Bacchus Marsh!
What plans have you got for the broadcast van?
We’ve got plans for lots of outside broadcasts — we’ve covered football for the past few seasons from the scoreboard but our listenership for the football has grown so much now we want to up the ante. The addition of the van will really increase that.
How do you think AppleFM benefits your community in Bacchus Marsh?
It keeps the people connected so everyone knows what’s happening in the community, especially through COVID. During the lockdown, our listeners felt like they had company – that they weren’t disconnected from the community even though they were locked down. We received so many emails and messages by SMS and to our Facebook page thanking us for what we did.
How has your listenership changed through the pandemic?
We’ve had an increase in membership applications, and a lot of new sponsorship enquiries especially with businesses reopening.
About our grants
Quick Response Grants are also available outside our grant rounds for community media organisations that are experiencing emergencies.