We bin done dat for 5 years at Black Star!
Innovation by Queensland Remote Indigenous Media and their Black Star Radio Network is modelling a new future for remote broadcasting.
Black Star’s approach in remote Queensland turns conventional indigenous broadcasting on its head. Old concepts and last century methods have been transformed through innovative use of technology and QRAM’s vision of equal opportunities and choices for people living in remote areas.
The result is reliable contemporary radio services in 15 remote; services as good as often better than those received by people in the capital cities of our nation.
Listeners to the Black Star Network now receive national news service on the hour, local weather updates on the hour, the latest music as it is released, localised emergency weather updates, and localised community information announcements.
They also retain control over local content produced within their own communities, with training of broadcasters simpler and more relevant, as local trainees are learning to work with the latest in radio technology.
This might seem ordinary for city and country dwellers, but remote listeners have not had this level of service.
Apart from a few hours of poorly-resourced local content, their external service support was only from a generalised satellite service from a faraway capital city.
The challenge of maintaining remote services and accessing training has always been a hugely expensive feature of remote broadcasting services. Days weeks and even months could go by before a fault could be identified; a part replaced or a new broadcaster trained.
No more, as all Black Star services are connected by a Wide Area Network (WAN) with playout systems fed into a common wall and monitored 24 hours a day. Modern transmitters are also monitored remotely. The minute any service goes down – be it due to a lightening strike, a power outtage, or a technical fault, it can be attended to from the hub and bought back on line. As these innovations bed down, this has become a rare occurrence for Black Star services.
Centrally managed community service announcements, music library management, logs and distribution via the WAN means local stations have current content instantly.
A our new Prime Minister says, organisations and industries of every kind are facing disruption driven by technology, and the nation needs to take advantage of these changes.
In his first comments after becoming Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull emphasised that he wanted the Australia of the future to become “agile innovative and creative”. He said that we had to recognise the disruption driven by technology change is our “friend”.
The Black Star network is a prime example of innovation and technology that the Prime Minister is urging Australians to embrace.
In general terms innovation has been in the doldrums, with little innovation, over many years. But innovation is now happening in the remote regions through a collaborative policy group The Northern Alliance, set among like-minded people from remote regions.
The major radio organisations on board including CAAMA, TEABBA, PAW, PY, NG, QRAM, and Larakia Radio look specifically at policy and innovation to reduce red tape, and bring better and more efficient radio services and training to remote radio stations. The Northern Alliance has been meeting since 2013 and already we are seeing a movement to establishing a WAN service between the RIMO HUBS.
The benefit will also extend to capital city services, who could then have access to program content from remote service hubs via their capital city exchange digital services.
Melbourne indigenous station 3knd have been successfully trialling programs from Black Star on a daily basis, and in time will also take program from other RIMO hubs on the 3knd digital service, bringing remote and urban Aboriginal people together on equal terms and giving city people a real taste of the bush, it’s culture, languages and creativity.
The spin-offs are enormous for the recognition and reconciliation processes, and many opportunities flow from there.
To consider just one example, the opportunity to promote indigenous tourism and indigenous owned tourism business, in their own words to city audiences.