Award For Technical Brain Behind Black Star

The name Gerry Pyne, is know far and wide among radio station engineers , as a Broadcast Engineer that knows his stuff. It was no surprise to see Gerry win the technical innovation award at the recent  CBAA conference on the Gold Coast.

Gerry, began his career at Telecom, as it was known in those days working in the  Melbourne Telecom exchange. Working as a budding engineer, he was at the cutting edge of technology learning his trade from the old guys.

For Gerry, the timing was right, it was the beginning of the transition to new and emerging Digital Platforms, the first  Mac Computers arrived and the world changed.

Studying hard and living away from home, he soon reached the top of his profession, was well adapted and enjoying  the challenges of the new frontiers, that digital technology bought with it.

Gerry grew up with a passion for radio, and during his school years, with a friend built a pirate AM radio station in the shed at his house in Apolo Bay. They would program it up and all the kids around Apollo Bay, would ride around on their bikes with their transistor radios strapped to the handle bars, listening to their own radio station.

“How cool was that”.

After getting his diploma qualifications at Telecom he moved to the Bendigo Telecom exchange, however the radio industry was always on his mind and he joined community station 3CCC in Harcourt Castlemaine Victoria, and in the process taking a very large salary cut. When pushed, why he left a cushy job at Telecom he would say, “I needed a change” in life. “An opportunity came to do something I loved”, “so I grabbed it”.  He later joined the CBAA board.

Spending quite a few years in Harcourt his progressive programming style introduced a program that broke with convention at the time the “Faggots and Dykes Show” which became a long term 4 hours program on a Friday night and set the direction, for similar programs on other community stations.

Gerry oversaw the move to new studios in the TAFE building in Bendigo, and a short time after that left that position and joined the National Indigenous Media association (NIMMA)  in Brisbane with the task, to set up the “National Indigenous Radio Service”

He began working with the Indigenous radio stations on designing and construction  of the NIRS model. Managing 3CCC he had learned a lot about program development and sponsorship, he turned his experience into NIRS  programming development, securing a deal with the AFL to broadcast the football to indigenous stations across the country securing a national sponsorship arrangement with Centre link. This was a first for remote stations who received a dividend from sponsorship ultimately putting money into remote stations.

Following a long period of time at NIRS, Gerry moved to Cairns in North Queensland with family and settled on the Atherton Tablelands filling in his time as an IT consultant and engineer for Southern Cross Aus-Stereo, other commercial services and indigenous services through the Queensland remote region.

Remote broadcasting was undergoing radical change and Gerry was recruited to set up the new Remote Indigenous Media Organisation, for Queensland. to be known as QRAM. Gerry established offices contacted communities and began community visits and an audit, which included focus groups in the communities, to determine what people wanted from their services and from the data collected began a refurbishment and rationalisation of services, which included rolling the five community BRACS stations on the NPA into one wide area NPA service at Bamaga.

This service became the first of 22 Radio services on the Black Star Network.  The feed back was instant people loved the new sound with its news, weather, information, and new music sound, and demand was immediate from other communities to be part of the Black Star network.

The QRAM Black Star story is still evolving as we add new transmitters to new sites closing black spots, so more indigenous people receive a quality radio services. Starting with a blank canvas QRAM with the assistance of our major funding partner I.A.S Cairns office, were able to build a modern network of radio services, that fit in with the aspirations of the community people to have decent radio services.

The Black Star network is a show case of indigenous radio can take a leading role in working with agencies and Government to deliver the services through media to remote communities efficiently in a culturally appropriate fashion.

Thank you Gerry, enjoy your award, and there will be many more.

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