The concept came about as a result of frustration due to a lack of local content on very few radio stations broadcasting to the Augusta region. In addition, attempts to acquire a frequency for the station to operate on were met with issues because the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) specified that any radio would cause interference with TV reception. Nevertheless, the founder of the station Russell Simpson pushed on with the support of the radio station steering committee and the local community. Mike Ryan, a sound engineer from RF Engineering, conducted a comprehensive investigation of FM frequencies available in the Augusta area and identified 99.9 MHz. His advice had been invaluable, and his official report was probably the biggest single factor in getting Augusta and Districts a community radio station.
In April 2008, ACMA notified Russell that the temporary broadcasting licence application had been passed onto their engineering branch in Canberra, and some weeks later, Russell was informed that the frequency 97.1MHz had been identified as the preferred option. A public submission period was advertised in the local papers closing on 27th June. ACMA informed us that it would take up to twelve weeks for a final decision on our application, and sure enough, on the 26th September 2008, twelve weeks almost to the day, we were given the great news that we had received a temporary broadcast licence.
On 16th October 2008, we received a cheque for $15,000 from a local bequest. Jack & Lena Ryall, a couple who lived in Augusta most of their lives and loved the area, left their entire estate to the Augusta community. The bequest was to be spent on projects that would benefit the community. On 19th October, Lotterywest informed us that we had been successful in obtaining a $10,000 grant to buy equipment for the radio station and on the 22nd October, the South West Development Commission granted us $20,000 to assist us to buy equipment. So October 2008 was a great month in the short life of Augusta Community Radio.
After discussions with ACMA about when the licence period should begin, the 1st February 2009 was the preferred date. Giving us a chance to buy and install the equipment and, most importantly, train our volunteers, put together programmes and learn how to operate the desk. During this time, the steering committee continued to meet and put together strategies and policies for the future and, most importantly, continue fundraising. On the 19th February 2009, a test broadcast was carried out and not long after, announcers were going live from our studios. In August 2009, we acquired our internet streaming licence, another way for Augusta Community Radio to be “making waves around Augusta”, a slogan that Sue Juniper penned.
On the 19th September 2013 notification that our permanent licence was approved and on 1st December 2013, we commenced broadcasting on a permanent licence renewed every five years. We celebrated our tenth birthday on 6th April 2019 with community members and our wonderful sponsors, without whom we would not be broadcasting.