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Update on CRN - Your Community Radio Network

CBAA News, 4th December 2012
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At the recent CBAA Conference in Melbourne, our Content Service Manager - Seth Jordan - delivered an update at one of the workshop sessions, discussing some of CRN’s programming accomplishments during 2012, and giving a sneak peek at what will be new and exciting in 2013. 

We’re posting the report here so that stations who weren’t able to attend that workshop can keep up to date with the terrific programs that are on offer to your station. CRN is here for both you and your listeners. So use us!

-    Seth Jordan


CRN – the Community radio Network - is all about program-sharing. What we do in Sydney is try to keep our ears to the ground, constantly listening out for some of the very best content that our sector has to offer, and making it technically available to other stations all around the country.

As a 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year service to subscriber stations, CRN is a constant programming stream - much like your own station, but in our case our audience is just you - the people who decide what your own listeners will hear in addition to your own local programming, when they tune in to your station. So since we’re not a radio station, and no one is listening to us ALL the time, our content may seem a little schizophrenic at times. That’s because we’re trying to supplement your own local programming with national content, and given what a diverse mob YOU are, with equally diverse needs,  CRN content tends to jump around a bit – although we try not to segue death metal programs into on country music shows – and vice versa!

We know that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the 100+programs that we’re offering you each week – we know that many of you don’t have a full-time Program Manager, some of you don’t even have a full-time Station Manager; and those stations that DO have those positions are usually flat-out trying to keep up with your own self-generated local programming. What CRN offers is additional programming, shows that you can either take live, or capture/record and program at a later time when it suits your own schedule better.

Hopefully CRN shows compliment your own local programming and possible fill in some gaps in music genres and talks programs that your own station can’t produce itself.  We offer programs that allow you to use us as an overnight sustaining service if you require that, or as a temporary fill-in when one of your presenters fails to show up. We even offer a weekday country breakfast program, if you can’t get enough local folks to get up early and be on-air from 05:00 or 6:00 EDT.

We offer specialist music shows from really knowledgeable music fanatics who are willing share their vast personal libraries with your listeners, and who often bring you interviews with national and international musicians who you might find it hard to get onto your own individual station. We offer independent news & current affairs shows produced by news junkies who regularly turn the spotlight on under-reported stories, as well as giving an alternative perspective to mainstream issues. And we try to make accessing this additional programming as easy for you as we can.

Firstly we email you a weekly e-news, alerting you of new programs, programs that are winding up, new short segments that you can drop into your breakfast and drive shows, and last-minute changes to the schedule.

But we’ve noticed on our email tracking that only some of you are utilising that e-news service – so if it’s going to the wrong address, we need to know. It usually goes to your station’s generic address (info@ etc), but we’d also like to make sure that it’s going direct into the in-boxes of your designated Program Manager, or whoever else you think needs to have a look at that weekly  news at your station. So if you think it’s going to the wrong inbox at present, please let us know and we’ll update those addresses straight away, okay? Email crn@cbaa.org.au or call 02 93102999.
 
And of course the latest monthly CRN schedule is always online at the CBAA site under ‘What We Do’, as well as the full Program Catalogue which gives you a synopsis of each program. We’ve printed up some catalogues that we have with us here this weekend, so if you haven’t had a look thru the CRN catalogue for awhile, make sure you grab one and have a good peek when you’ve got some time. And catch up on what’s currently being offered.

And while many of you are still accessing CRN programs on the old satellite dish system, an increasing number of you are capturing programs via the DDN+ system, which gives you even more program info with added meta-data, photos and the like. DDN logoDavid Sice will be updating you with some of the details on the big soon-come move from the Aurora Digital DDN to the new VAST system shortly. It’s a big change but we think once it beds in you’re going to be really happy with it.

Since we’re totally aware that many stations add or change their programming on a quarterly or bi-annual basis, we want to give you and your programming committees plenty of time to become aware of new CRN programs, have a good listen and give due consideration to whether it might be suitable for your station. When we introduce new programs, we like to give them a good year to bed in, and see what sort of uptake they build up over that period. In most cases it takes that long to see if a program is going to be popular with the sector – or not.

And of course like any of your own weekly schedules, we sometimes have to either give programs a rest, or discontinue them entirely. From our standpoint if a program isn’t generating a weekly uptake of at least 15 or 20 stations, then we have to reconsider whether we keep it in the grid or not. Even if we think it’s a great show, if you folks aren’t interested in it, then it’s better that we look around for one that you are.

So I want to talk a little about some specific programs in the current CRN grid:

As well as continuing many of our very reliable sector favourites, which you seem to want, like The Wire, Off The Record, Jazz Made In Australia, Writer’s Radio, Nothin But The Blues, Arts Alive, Amrap Airit Charts, Cinemascape, Women On The Line, Lost In Science, Deadly Sounds, and many others, we’re also continuing to add new programs to  the weekly schedule. In the last 12 months we’ve added some really interesting new stuff, and I want to make sure you’re aware of them.

Talks

Primary Perspectives – The innovative children’s show from 3WBC (Whitehorse East Melb.) It’s radio for kid’s by kids! (And it won one of the major CBAA Awards this year!)                                                                                                                                                                   
Real World Gardener – from 2RRR n Ryde has enjoyed a quick uptake of stations. It’s a half-hour show about sustainable gardening, the environment and wildlife. The presenter Marianne often brings in experts to discuss topics like horticulture and bushcare, and she talks about different Aussie regions and what’s most appropriate for growing there.

All The Best – coming from an urban youth perspective (and produced jointly between Sydney youth station FBI and Melbourne’s SYN, 5his is a really engaging program that blends short-form documentary with perThe Book Clubsonal stories from the street.

The Book Club – 4ZZZ’s literature program with a difference. Again incorporating a younger viewpoint, there’s book reviews in many genres, as well as in-depth author interviews.

On The Money – a new finance program from 2SER Sydney.  At a time when everyone is much more financially-conscious than they used to be, and trying to better control their own purse-strings, this program helps to de-bug the myths with some straight finance talk.

Worldlink – produced by our partner Deutsche Welle from Germany, it’s a 55- minute program looking at the stories of individuals behind the global current affairs headlines.

And one that I’m especially proud of is  - The World with Tim Stackpool – an end-of-week (late Friday arvo) compilation of international news stories from a variety of newsgathering agencies – including United Nations Radio, Al Jazeera and GRNlive - the Foreign Correspondents Network. Focusing on humanitarian issues, ‘The World’ is gathered and presented by independent Australian newsman Tim Stackpool. It’s got both balance and integrity. So make sure you check that one out, eh? I think it would suit most stations, whether urban or rural.

Music

The Phantom Dancer – Quite simply one of the best and most enjoyable shows on Community Radio! Music from the 1920s -50s classic dance, swing and jazz bands from the fabulous live ballrooms of the era.  Expertly presented by Greg Poppleton (pictured), it’s musical time travelling to some truly great and old-time music.

Gloomy Sunday - also often in a nostalgic musical mood, but from a totally different and pretty bent comedic point of view,  which despite its name isn’t gloomy at all and isn’t necessarily for Sunday broadcast - unless you want it to be! It originated at regional NSW’s Braidwood FM – with odd couple presenters Michael Gill and Chris Payne - who choose a different theme each week, and pride themselves on being very cheeky, irreverent and occasionally tasteless, but always light-hearted. With appropriately themed music interspersed between their raves, it’s certainly not a show for all stations, but if you’re a bit adventurous I urge you to have a listen and see if it suits your audience. You’ll either love it dearly or hate it! Nuff said?  

Fine Music Live – Veering heavily to the other side of musical tastes, Fine Music Live is a program that’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. A collaboration between all of the Fine Music Network stations (formerly known as the MBS network), this two-hour weekly program features live concert recordings from all of those stations’ extensive music libraries. It highlights local, national and international performances, with a special emphasis on Australian compositions and performers.   

Big Sound-Live Train – coming to us from BEAU FM in southeast Qld., this program presents weekly short 10-15 minute segments of live concerts from Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, as well as Beaudesert’ local venue The Train Station. It’s an excellent way to keep up with local Qld. and national touring musicians, and a really good well—recorded local music initiative.    

And of course over the last year we’ve also offered you a long, long list of special series, one-off specials, many outside broadcast from some of the country’s most important music festivals and BBC programs -  a list which is far too lengthy to mention individually here. But suffice it to say that this is programming content that you simply won’t get anywhere else, and it’s specifically produced with your listeners in mind. And in almost all cases, they’re programs BY Community broadcasters, FOR Community broadcasters.

And that’s another good reason why it’s always worth keeping your eye on the weekly CRN e-news. These specials can really help differentiate your station from the other radio stations in your area, and gives you the opportunity to promote some really excellent and unique content to your listeners in advance.

UPCOMING IN 2013

Talks

Fair Comment – 4EB will be providing us with a new half-hour news & current affairs features show from a grassroots perspective, interviewing people who use the news within the community.  

Opinions – building on the popularity of Mungo’s McCallum’s short weekly comment on social/political issues, we’re going to be widening the concept and points of view in 2013, by of course maintaining Mungo, but adding in rotating weekly comments across the weekdays with short opinion pieces from a diverse mob of commentators, including feminist/activist Eva Cox, indigenous academic Larissa Behrendt, right-wing public policy analyst Tim Wilson, arts & sports fanatic Lex Marinos and a few others. And you’ll be able to take as many or as few of those opinions as you like. It should be riveting and controversial listening – which is a good thing.

Plus several special series and segments that were funded this year by the CBF’s Content Development grants....

Centralian Yarns - 8CCC Alice Springs– is just what it sounds like, a series of stories from the red centre, focusing on individual achievements, local history, etc. It  could be of interest to a number of regional stations, and adventurous urban stations too.
5PBA in Adelaide will be contributing ‘Living Outback’ –a program examining rural and regional issues

Two new health series from 3NOW in NW Melbourne – I’m A Survivor (cancer stories) & Accent On Ability.

From Melbourne’s ethnic station 3ZZZ – Stories about issues about living in Australia from International students.

And of course we, like you, are awaiting the outcomes of the most recent round of CBF Content Development grants – If you’re waiting to hear about an application for those, you might want to bail up grant administrator Jon King during the weekend for those results – and they will be officially announced next week.

Music
New shows are about to start from JOY FM on Asian Pop; the long-running Bluegrass Unlimited will be broadcast weekly from Radio Adelaide; as well as their veteran Folk Show (the oldest folk program in the country);

We’ll also be introducing new specialist and cutting-edge music shows from PBS and RRR here in Melbourne

And again several new music programs will probably be getting up from those latest CBF grants, which we’ll have to find room on CRN for.

Costs – of course CRN is totally non-profit. Subscription rates are modest and designed to just help cover our costs, beyond what we receive from CBF. So CRN subscription rates are based on what stations can actually easily afford. Fully-licensed CBAA member stations are charged quarterly at a rate of 0.6 % of gross income, with a minimum of $150 a quarter and a max of $475. And then there’s a sliding scale for part-time aspirant members, non-members, etc.   And if you elect to pay your CRN subscription in one annual upfront payment, you receive an additional 5% discount.

NRN logoAnd of course as a CRN subscriber, your station can take as many programs as you want - some only take a few and some take a lot! The one and only exception to that open-ended rule is National Radio News, which does charge a an additional modest charge for their wonderful service, which is well worth it, and I think most would agree is way ahead of their competition, and once again is specifically designed and produced for Community stations and their listeners.

That NRN service is sounding really fine these days, so if your station is needing a very reliable and authoritative news service, make sure you have a chat here at the conference with NRN Manager (& 2MCE Station Manager) Ross Larsen, and News Director Rod Bloomfield, or contact them afterwards. They’re providing a great service to the sector.  

More than anything we always need to know what sort of new programs you’re after. We exist to serve your programming needs, and value your feedback and suggestions. CRN is here for both you and your listeners. So use us!

-    Seth Jordan

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