• Hannah Phillips

Flow and Federation

Australia became a nation in 1901 following meetings in the late 1890’s at Corowa, now the home of the Federation Council.

Nearby Urana became the birthplace of Australian Irrigation in the late 1800’s following the digging of channels at Coonong Station by early settler, Sir Samuel McCaughey who developed the first channel dredger used to begin what today is the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

100 years later Flow Media has begun a regional radio service to smaller towns in the area, after being granted a license in 2015 to broadcast Commercial FM radio in the region.

This week has seen the culmination of efforts initially in the Urana Shire and later with Federation Council and Lockhart Shire to construct and switch on this important service to the smaller towns of the area.

On Saturday 9 December, 2017 88.7 FM was switch on to begin testing the service.

Two weeks earlier Flow Media Technical Manager Robert Habel and Project Manager Wayne Phillips journeyed to Urana and co-ordinated the site works at a local farm site with footings being laid on Tuesday 21 November for a 45 metre broadcast mast with the support of the local farmers and a Corowa Earthmoving and Foundation service.

The Flow Media construction team returned a fortnight later with veteran rigger John Channon who has 33 years experience in building broadcast sites and was standing his ninth Flow Media mast along with 20 other rigging jobs with the company.

The unseasonal weather saw 4 inches fall on the Urana area on the Saturday before the team arrived for work on Monday.

Tuesday saw the setting up of the mast ready for a crane to haul sections up, while 4 hours of showers and rain continued to fall.

The Riverina Crane Company from Wagga Wagga arrived on Wednesday morning and promptly got bogged.

The local farmer rescued the situation with a 250 horsepower Case IH tractor to the relief of the Project Team, and some joking after the situation led to a better site found for standing the mast to begin.

By the end of the day John, Rob and Wayne along with their precise crane driver had stood and gyed 45 metres of mast.

A team effort of ‘farmers and flow team’ mounted the 2 metre satellite dish.

The project had the planned equipment room arrival for Thursday morning but further challenging news arrived Wednesday night that the Container company supplying the equipment room was not able to deliver for a further two days.

With electrical, rigging and broadcast components all needed to continue building, negotiations with the manufacturer began and the team were pleased when Keith informed them the container would arrive at 8pm on Thursday night.

Thursday saw the digging of the electrical service trench and laying of the power cable run by Simon Lane Electrical and his efficient team.

John Channon continued climbing the mast and mounted the antennas, lightning finial and associated cables at the top of the 45 metre mast, while Rob and Wayne continued mast earthing and minor site works.

The weather continued to threaten and as winds increased the team abandoned the site around 4pm as more rain developed.

Through the week the Project Team were well fed by Lisa Jay who set up camp at the local cabins in Urana overlooking the Urangeline Creek and Aquatic Centre - a great place for a quiet refreshment after a long, hard day's work.

Thursday night arrived and Adrian from container company Royal Wolf, delivered the much anticipated equipment room, in the rain!

On hand was Farmer Greg who enjoyed supervising proceedings.

Friday arrived and the team were back at work before 8am and John back up the tower connecting the main transmitter cable to the antennas, while the electricians and refrigeration mechanic connected the essential services.

Rob and Wayne unloaded the equipment gear for the room and the important process of getting the station on air began.

Mayor Pat Bourke of the Federation Council was on hand on Friday to look over the site and the service being developed.

Saturday morning came around far too quickly for the weary team who went to site early to terminate the connections of the transmission cables and associated wiring of the equipment rack and transmitter gear in the equipment room, and the station was turned on for the first time on Saturday 9 December at 4pm.

The Project Team made their way back to their respective homes over the weekend.

Flow FM announcers began official broadcasting to the NSW Riverina service from breakfast with Courtney and Wayne in Mornings with a recorded interview from the weekend with Mayor Pat Bourke.

The impact of Federation has been felt beyond the local area where meetings began, and now Flow hopes to have a new impact through radio broadcasts in the Federation and Lockhart areas.

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