The Last Connection

Friday’s horrendous rain storm in the Gulf of Carpentaria prevented any satellite communications from reaching into Mornington Island.

Whilst people in the South may be able to rely on the ABC in emergency weather conditions, it is not a reliable option in the north of Australia. The ABC and other TV and radio services rely on the old technology of satellite and suffered “rain-fade” leading to them being off air for a considerable amount of time. Just imagine what it is like to be so isolated in such dangerous cyclonic conditions. This can go on for several days .

However with the upgrade of  Mornington Island’s own Aboriginal radio service as part of the Black Star network gives Mornington Island a very reliable option.


Storm damage on Mornington Island this week

Black Star, the Indigenous remote radio network service operated by Queensland Remote Aboriginal Media is fast becoming the service to listen to in Cape York  and Gulf of Carpentaria regions. Black Star’s network is now 16 stations, with services soon to launch in Lakeland Downs and Croydon and new services planned to fill in the remaining black spots in the Cape and Gulf.

Black Star operates through a combination of broadcasting and a Wide Area Network (WAN) system for delivery of programming;  the only network in Northern Australia to successfully operate such a service.

The unique technology that powers Black Star stations was developed by QRAM engineer and manager Gerry Pyne and is fast becoming a national standard for remote Indigenous broadcasting, with interest growing nationally and internationally.

Black Star operates from a Hub in Cairns interacting with local stations and broadcasters. Local community and regional information is sourced by a small staff who produce the content and program each remote studio log, giving a new approach to remote broadcasting ensuring people receive local, regional and national information and emergency information for their particular community.

During the recent bush fires around Cooktown, on the spot reports direct to Black Star and from emergency service volunteers gave people time to activate their fire emergency plans. Also in Cooktown, a downpour caused rivers to rise so rapidly that the school would be cut off.  Via Black Star people were alerted to come and pick up their children from the school.

Listeners who can receive Black Star find it provides everything you want of a good radio service: up to date news 24/7 the latest sporting events, great entertainment in music, information on available services in their local area and region. Councils across the Cape and Gulf, and Cook Shire use the service to promote their services and emergencies.

QRAM continues to provide services and roll out new Black Star services as part of their charter to bring remote radio services up to the standard of those the capital cities of Australia.

QRAM receives funding from the IAS program within the Department of the Prime Minister in Cabinet.

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