Kowanyama closes the technology gap

Upgrades to studio technology continues across the Black Star network, with Kowanyama Black Star Radio Service now the fifteenth station to be equipped with the ZETTA play out system and the third service with a SCADA monitoring and messaging system.

QRAM Manager Gerry Pyne and Network Co-ordinator Sai Matianavora travelled to Kowanyama today to install the new systems.  Kowanyama is on the south western side of the Cape, the land of many rivers.

QRAM Network co-ordinator Sai Matianavora with Kowanyama broadcaster Russell Kitchener

Sai Matianova is well known to the community of Doomadgee, where he worked for several years as the broadcaster on the local Black Star network station. His talent was spotted by Gerry Pyne and he’s recently been appointed to the important Network Coordinator position at QRAM. It’s great to see a career path emerging for our remote broadcasters.  Through training and development that is practical and industry-focussed, there are more steps into the broader industry emerging, including within our Aboriginal owned and controlled services.

Sai is a great role-model for the two enthusiastic local broadcasters, Russell Kitchener and Rebecca Holiness. They both love the cutting edge systems they are working with, as well as the music content available for them to play. “It’s just so good” they said, “something there for everyone”.

Kowanyama also joins Cooktown and Yarrabah as the first Black Star services to have a new SCADA monitoring and messaging system installed, to back up our Wide Area Network (WAN) that connects stations in the Black Star network in a “two-way highway”.

A SCADA system allows QRAM to SCADA systems to monitor and control field operations across our wide range of remote locations, sending data to QRAM central and adds a new level of accountability and professionalism to the Network.

The SCADA system allows the hub to monitor a series of sensor points in the radio stations broadcast chain, from what program comes into the station to what program goes to air. Everything that is going on at the station in terms of the equipment is monitored via the WAN back at the Black Star Hub in Cairns.

This includes transmitter and audio system function, voltage and temperature, along with program logs and confirmation that Community Service Announcements and Campaign Announcements are going to air as scheduled.

The WAN server triggers an alarm if the service is off air or any other problems arise, sending an SMS message to the Hub technician, who can immediately log into the station and fix the problems as they arise.

Rebecca-Russel lKowanyama iv health worker

Rebecca Holiness and Russell Kitchener interview a visiting health worker in the Kowanyama studio.

Having this tool in the kit allows remote Indigenous networks to monitor every station in their network in a way that has never been possible before. It ensures that there is a minimal down-time for any station.  Remote radio services don’t haveto wait for a technician to travel thousands of kilometres to diagnose and try to fix a problem.  Very often, the problem can be solved from the Hub, or a local broadcaster can be guided through a procedure to fix.

In these times of budget constraints, it means huge savings on travel and allowances, and this allows us to focus our resources in the interests of listeners.

It means better radio services in their communities. They are kept up to date with national news at the top of every hour, local weather, local information service, emergency services information for bushfires, floods and cyclones. Listeners to the Black Star will get the latest in music content in all categories, plus the golden oldies and the best of reggae and country.

The SCADA installation is a first for Indigenous and community radio networks and opens up possibilities for other network media hubs such as Remote Indigenous Media organisation networks as a tool to monitor their Remote Indigenous Radio Services.

Sai,Rebecca, Gerry, Russel-Kowanyama airport

Say, Rebecca, Gerry and Russell at Kowanyama airport

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