Liz Woodward and Ryan Baird are 2CHY-FM?s longest serving announcers. Liz first went on air in 1992. Ryan, a volunteer announce
Liz Woodward and Ryan Baird are 2CHY-FM?s longest serving announcers. Liz first went on air in 1992. Ryan, a volunteer announce

Youth radio station in a desperate plea for help

By GRAEME SINGLETON

LIZ Woodward admits she would be devastated in the highly unlikely event that 2CHY-FM went off air.

"It has been a really important part of my life for the past 14 years, and means so much to the city, so I hope we soon get the support of the community we are so happy to serve," she said.

What is worrying Liz is that 33 years after it went on air as the world's first youth cable radio station, 2CHY is struggling financially.

A former staff member allegedly took a chunk of the station's money when he left and while that matter is now in the hands of police, that is little consolation to those like long-term director Bill Wood who is working so hard to keep 2CHY afloat.

"The situation is pretty desperate, but we are determined to continue the great service and to provide training opportunities to the city's youth," Mr Wood said.

Nor is 2CHY's predicament due to a lack of listeners, according to drive announcer, Andrew 'Robbo' Roberts, who earlier this month successfully stayed on air for 120 hours and is now submitting a claim for inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records.

"We had a survey done last year which showed 42 per cent of people in Coffs Harbour listened to us," he said.

"We are the city's only truly live and local radio station. It's just that the station has been drained dry and we now can't get out and sell sponsorship to the business community," Robbo said.

Only two people at CHY are on the payroll ? the office manager and the production manager.

Currently the station is kept on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a roster of 23 volunteer announcers.

The only salesperson, drive announcer Robbo, works on a commission-only basis.

Bill Wood said CHY needed a revenue flow of $16,000 a month to pay rent, phones and wages and to pay outstanding debts.

"That is proving to be a real struggle," he said.

"We haven't got the resources to get out there and tell the business community how good a station we are, how big an audience we've got, and what a good advertising medium we are, and without their support we're stuck in this well of low revenue.

"Because of our financial situation we can't afford to employ a general manager and that means there is no problem-solving going on, and there is no direction for volunteers or sales people to follow.

"Some of our past students have gone on to great things in commercial radio around the country, but the CHY experience is not necessarily just about preparing kids for media careers. It is also about developing self-confidence and communication skills.

"There are a lot of very successful teachers, engineers, parents and doctors out there who have benefitted from being involved in CHY.

"CHY is an investment in our youth and in our future ? and that's why we need the support of the business and general communities," Mr Wood said.



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