Technorama Awards

Outstanding Technical Innovation – Ken Westerman

 This first Technorama Award category is designed to acknowledge an initiative showing ingenuity, innovation and resourcefulness, which are particularly valuable qualities in community run media organisations who need to make the very most of very limited resources.

Often it is in the smaller of stations where some clever thinking can make a huge difference. This Award for Innovation this year goes to Ken Westerman for his work at Three Rivers FM in Dunedoo, a rural community just this side of Dubbo. Ken is Three Rivers’ Technician, but also supports and works with with other nearby community stations such as Casino’s Cow-FM and Dubbo’s DC-FM.

Ken receives this Award for his writing of software to extract data from log file to create outputs: including the time of sponsor announcements per hour and broadcast details for each sponsor; data about Community announcements per organization and Australian Content details of items per Australian artist and percentage per month.

It’s a piece of software created specifically to meet the needs of the Dunedoo station that has proven to be of great assistance in the general running of station as well as financial management. An excellent piece of work, that will long continue to make a difference. Congratulations to Ken Westerman for the Technorama Outstanding Technical Innovation Award for 2017.

Outstanding Technical Contribution through Mentoring & Nurturing Culture – Richard Fleming

This Award is about recognising major efforts in helping to train, mentor or support people interested in technology. The outstanding nominee in this category who Technorama recognises with this award is Richard Fleming.

Richard Fleming is one of the most experienced broadcasting engineers, with over 47 years of experience. He looks after the technical support for many Sydney community stations, from 2SER to 2RPH, including smaller stations such as Skid Row, as well as extending as far as Vox-FM in Wollongong. Richard has also worked on many innovative community broadcasting projects, such as the award winning, Star Observer Digital, a queer pop-up digital radio station.

In working with that diversity of stations, Richard has always been very generous with his time and knowledge in encouraging others in their understanding and interest in broadcasting and IT technology.

This Award also goes to Richard in recognition of his technician traineeship project, which is now being supported by a grant from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. This project aims to give training support and experience for a young technician for Sydney Community Radio Stations. It arose partly because of the great need for technical support for those stations, spurred on by the fact that Richard has had some serious health issues and will soon retire, which could otherwise leave many stations with no technician.

Hopefully this project will inspire other stations to work together and encourage morer young people to take up broadcast engineering.

For his work in getting this traineeship off the ground and his wider mentoring over the years, the inaugural Technorama Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution through Mentoring & Nurturing Culture is richly deserved by Richard Fleming.

Rising Technical Star – Three Recipients

This Award is designed to recognise and encourage young people who have become involved with the technical aspects of community media. The field of nominations for the Award was at a very high level and the judging panel decided that all three finalists were equally deserving of an award. When you hear more about these three extraordinary young people, we’re sure you will agree.

Josh Agnew

Pulse FM is the Local Youth Radio Station for the Tasmania’s Kingborough & Huon municipalities. Launched in April 2016 Pulse FM is all about giving young people a voice in the community, and the promotion of local activities and artists. Pulse’s Station Manager is Josh Agnew. Josh has recently turned 13, so he’s not going get much argument in claiming to be Australia’s youngest radio GM.

Mind you, Josh is not exactly new to radio – he’s been doing this for, well, a few years now. He’s has used this time, with the help of others, to install and configure a range of digital technology at Pulse FM which has made the station the leader in the way digital and IP is used in community radio in Tasmania.

To just mention a few of a very long list of technological achievements that Josh has been associated with:

  • Pulse FM‘s fully digital IP link and Radio Data System
  • The station’s fully digital playout system, and digital audio path from the automation to the the transmitter site.
  • Pulse FM’s use of extremely low latency remote IP outside broadcast input feeds, allowing it to conduct live outside broadcast from virtually anywhere
  • And its call-to-listen feature, where you can call a landline number and listen to Pulse FM without data charges from wherever you happen to be.

Josh continues to busily work on a range of new projects to push more boundaries in technical and program operations. Reportedly, he also finds time to go to school.

It’s a great story of youthful enthusiasm, energy and dedication. Community media is very fortunate to have such talent in its ranks – one most deserving of the Rising Star Award.

Anthony Eden

The second joint-winner of this Award is Anthony Eden. First involved in 2CCR in Baulkham Hills during his high school years, Anthony also volunteered at Hope Media, helping out during school holidays and at special events and Outside Broadcasts. After leaving school he was employed part-time at Hope while starting a university degree, which became a full-time position.

Still only 23, Anthony has developed software and systems that, in the words of his nomination, “mere mortals wouldn’t have thought possible. His work is always focused on improving the quality of broadcast, productivity of other staff, security, and listener/viewer experience. Anthony takes crazy ideas from other staff and makes them happen. He then takes those ideas far beyond what you could have ever dreamed up yourself.”

Some of the projects he’s been involved with are:

  • On Air Hope – An innovative application that takes “Now Playing” data for all Hope Media stations for the Station Websites, RDS encoders & Mobile streaming apps.
  • Playout System Upgrade involving conversion of 90,000 audio files and converting the database of old Automation system.
  • And a Live Tally Room fundraising management system, which helps with staging live data from a donor CRM and phone systems for display for on air talent; and includes scripts, fundraising challenges and targets, as well as publishing the tally to website.

Christian Community stations around Australia have benefitted from Anthony pushing the boundaries through his innovative and creative approach to technology. Anthony has already brought real change – all to the better – to community broadcasting. Anthony Eden – an outstanding Rising Star!

Ben Scott-Smith

Our third Rising Star, Ben Scott-Smith has become known as Blue Mountains Radio’s ‘Junior Engineer’. A technical whiz-kid at 15 years of age, Ben has become the presenters ‘go-to’ person for technical advice. For a small station with limited technical resources his help has become indispensable. According to the station, Ben’s thinking outside the box and his creative approach has set up technology no one else in the station quite understands, but certainly gains a lot from.

Ben spends so much time at the station that last year his school agreed to make it his official sports activity! And he promptly topped the class!

As a typical teenager Ben normally won’t get out of bed by midday on weekends, but he can be relied upon to be onsite at 4am on a Sunday running IP cabling up the street, managing firewalls, software, computers and setting up an broadcast console for an Outside Broadcast.

In a sector where often the smaller stations have great difficulty getting adequate technical support, the value of such a keen, creative young technologist is enormous. Congratulations to Ben Scott-Smith, another winner of the Rising Star Award!

Lifetime Technical Contribution to a community radio or TV station – Ralph Knight

Ralph Knight’s contribution to community radio in Melbourne spans over forty years. Ralph has been involved with 3CR since it began in 1976. The station’s first studios were constructed with ex-ABC equipment, and Ralph was one of the volunteer technical crew that overhauled, modified, and installed that gear to create three functional studios for one of the first Australian community stations.

3CR had to move both its studio and transmitter sites in early 1978 and Ralph again was involved in that process. By 1984 3CR had been granted a power increase, and acquired a pair of AWA 2kW transmitters. One of these was for 3CR, while the second was for the newly created 3RPH. 3CR put 3RPH to air on its Collingwood antenna when the national and commercial services declined to assist.

As well as volunteering his time, technical expertise and ingenuity Ralph also partly financed the construction, installation and commissioning of the Radio for the Print Handicapped transmission facility.

Throughout the past forty years Ralph has continued to be a valued member of the 3CR technical crew, and is still called on for advice.

Remarkably Ralph has also made a major contribution to 3CR’s programming right from the start, being a passionate devotee of all things that spin at 78 RPM. Ralph has been regularly involved in 3CR weekend programs like “Swing ‘n Sway” “Steam Radio” and the popular “Nostalgia Unlimited”.

In all, it’s been a huge contribution to one of Australia’s most successful community radio stations, making Ralph Knight a clear choice for the 2017 Technorama Award for Lifetime Technical Contribution to a community radio or TV station.

Lifetime Contribution to the Sector – Tim Borgas

Tim Borgas has been involved with Community Radio since 1989. His involvement over those 28 years has been centred on Adelaide’s Three D Radio, a very successful progressive music broadcaster and the only metro-wide station that operates without any paid staff. Tim’s involvement has ranged from selling sponsorship through to training new presenters; getting involved in all things technical; and serving as treasurer and as chair-person of the station.

At the same time, Tim also turned his energies to advancing the work of the wider sector. At state level, Tim has long been a key driver of the South Australia Community Broadcasting Association (SACBA), one of the most active of regional CBAs. Tim is Treasurer and Technical Advisor of SACBA. He regularly consults with stations across South Australia, and is heavily involved in helping stations to put together grant applications.  As part of a Sector documentation project, Tim visited many regional stations and assisted them fixing long-standing problems. He also initiated the SA ‘Station Assistance Program’ and SA equipment bank – a truly collaborative model.

At the national level, Tim Borgas was a Board Member of the CBAA for several years and became the founding Treasurer of Technorama, and through SACBA, Tim was convenor and organiser of two Technorama conferences held in Adelaide.

During his involvement in community media spanning close to three decades, Tim has made a major contribution to the sector; particularly to South Australian community stations. On top of that, Tim’s simply an all-round good guy, making him most deserving of the Technorama Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Sector.