Icon broadcasts diversity
BACK when the internet was only for nerds and CDs were the future, as the legend goes, three friends got together for a game of darts and created a community icon.
The three kings of community radio, NAG 91.3, Nick Saunders, Andre Soarez and Graham Channells caught up again this week with Andre visiting from Brazil.
"Back in 1996 we were playing darts on my deck and talking about starting a community radio station and thought 'if we don't do it someone else will and we might not like what they do'," said Nick.
"We didn't know anything about radio, we just did it," said Graham, who brought audio engineering experience to the table to complement their social consciousness.
The initials from each of their first names were combined to name the fledgling station.
"With certain connotations to the duty of radio, which is to nag," laughed Andre.
Their first trial broadcast from the Yeppoon Town Hall set the tone for the station that today provides a voice for the Capricorn Coast community.
"We climbed on the roof at about 10pm at night and stuck the transmitter up with a couple of bricks," Nick said.
"The first song we played was People have the Power (to redeem the work of fools) which seemed an appropriate message at the time."
"It's still appropriate, it should be the National Anthem," interjected Andre, who also initiated the development of Waru Permaculture Gardens.
"Community radio puts a voice into a vibrant part of the community that doesn't usually have one," he said.
"That's what radio is great for, just putting it out there."
Occupying sites at Emu Park and Yeppoon High before moving to their current location at John St, the station has evolved and continues to entertain and address local issues.
"We never played fear or favour. We wanted the station to reflect the diversity of the community and promote local business," Nick said.
"It's great it has ticked on and been long-lasting - that is what we wanted."
Stressing the importance of social capital and providing an alternate voice to the 'homogenised' commercial media, the NAG founders have never lost their social awareness.
"If you invest in social capital it will lead to economic health," said Nick.
Keeping the station afloat and volunteers interested was a challenge that was met with the start of the Radio NAG Valentines Ball.
"It's such a success and has been going for over 10 years, people know if NAG organises it they will get great value and entertainment."