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Released on 17 August 2018
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 This article features in the Winter 2018 edition of Salisbury Aware.

THE northern region’s beloved community radio station PBA-FM is celebrating its 35th anniversary this August.


The station has seen a wide array of changes since first entering the local airwaves in 1983.

PBA-FM kicked off full time broadcasting – originally as 5 PBA – at an opening event attended by the Honourable Dr Lynn Arnold, then the state Member for Salisbury and later Premier of South Australia.

Volunteer and show host Gary Lockyer has been involved since the very beginning.

“It was a great time, building it up,” he said. “There was strong camaraderie.”

“There are a lot of possibilities in radio.”

Mr Lockyer said that when the station initially began, broadcasting stopped at midnight. One of the volunteers had to physically turn off the transmitter, located at a local high school, and drop the key in Mr Lockyer’s letterbox - which he then used to turn it back on again early the next morning.

The station also used to have a caravan, which was kitted out with equipment to broadcast live from special events.

“Unfortunately, we eventually had to give that up,” Mr Lockyer said. “It started leaking through the roof!”

The station helped to pioneer community radio in South Australia, particularly specialist ethnic and religious programming. Multicultural shows have been part of PBA-FM’s line up since the very start, when the station aired programs made for and by the local Greek, Italian and other ethnic communities.

These days, a huge array of multicultural shows are broadcast at the station, including Salvadoran, Bhutanese, German, Macedonian, Romanian, Filipino and more.

Marilyn Bos has been volunteering with the station almost since 1984, helping to host the Filipino programming.

“We applied for a time [to broadcast] - and as one of the community leaders, I ended up behind the microphone,” she said.

“It has become a part of me.”

Numerous former volunteers at PBA FM have subsequently gone on to forge successful careers on national radio, such as Triple J’s breakfast host Liam Stapleton and the late Richard Marsland.

In addition to music and multicultural shows, the station has broadcast a huge variety of programs over the years, from talkback to scripted serials.

“One year we even did a radio play of A Christmas Carol,” Mr Lockyer said.

“The year that Halley’s Comet flew by, we did a special show about that.”

PBA-FM has continued to thrive in the age of digital broadcasting. Many of the shows are also available as podcasts and the station also streams online via their website – earning fans across the globe.

The station’s Sales Administrator Sherina Winton said PBA-FM provided “exciting” learning opportunities to volunteers, who are pleasantly surprised to discover technical skills they never knew they had.

Ms Winton encouraged prospective volunteers to get in contact, or drop into the station to say hello.

“Or, if you’re between 16 – 25, contact Council about the Jibba Jabba intake,” she said. “They do six weeks’ worth of training and then they go on air in groups.”

The station’s volunteers are confident that community radio will continue to flourish.

“I think community radio has more of the grassroots appeal,” said Ms Winton.

“Community radio provides programming that [otherwise] isn’t catered to,” Mr Lockyer agreed.

“We have a real sense of community in the station,” Ms Winton said. “We [also] give the local community a voice.”