Transmission tower increases Harrietville's safety and sense of community

The picturesque mountain village of Harrietville, located on the Great Alpine Road 26 km from Bright in north-east Victoria, is home to around 270 people.

In 2013, when the Harrietville bushfire was burning, community radio station Alpine Radio, in its role as an Emergency Services Broadcaster, was broadcasting emergency warnings and advice from the CFA and SES in relation to the bushfire. Alpine Radio is located in Mount Beauty, and because Harrietville was in a "black spot" - with the nearby mountains blocking the normal signal from being received - noone in Harrietville could actually hear those warnings.

This was a source of frustration for Alpine Radio's committee of management and presenters, who resolved to find a solution as soon as possible. After a year of planning, applying for and receiving a grant, obtaining the required licences and organising the equipment, there is now a solution.

FRRR, with funding from John T Reid Charitable Trusts, provided a grant of $5,000 towards the costs of transmission equipment, as did the Harrietville TV Committee, which was formed to ensure better TV reception for the Valley, and provided access to the building on which the transmitter has been located.

On Friday, 3 January 2014, Alpine Radio installed aerials and equipment to broadcast live and direct into Harrietville on frequency 94.5FM.  

Alpine Radio's volunteer technical officers Rob O'Connor, Dick Puttyfoot & Paul L'Huillier installed the equipment high on Cavalier Spur overlooking Harrietville, with assistance from several members of the Harrietville TV Committee. 

Alpine Radio Secretary, Nicholas Brown, said, "We are most grateful to FRRR and the John T Reid Charitable Trusts for making this possible with a generous grant towards this project. Alpine Radio now has coverage across most of its catchment area, and, as well as giving the Kiewa and Ovens Valleys a very important asset, it means that emergency broadcasts can be clearly heard."

Mr Brown says that the new transmitter has had another benefit - bringing the community closer together.

"There is a strong sense of community now that the town has a local community radio station to interact with.  We have already had several calls from people saying they are enjoying our programs, as well as requests to play particular songs. We've begun promoting community and sporting events, not just into Harrietville, but to other towns in the area such as Bright and Mount Beauty as well, which opens those events up to more people," he explained.

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