• Tony Bosworth

Ex-Mayor Barry Calvert new President of Hawkesbury’s Harmony FM - will push for single radio licence

Leading Hawkesbury councillor, ex-Mayor and current President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), Barry Calvert, has just been appointed President of Harmony FM, and says he wants to see a single full-time radio licence for the Hawkesbury.

The Hawkesbury currently has three separate local radio stations – Hawkesbury Radio, Hawkesbury Gold and Harmony FM - who share the airwaves with separate time slots.

This unique situation came about in 2017 after the then single licence holder – the previous Hawkesbury Radio 89.9 (HR) – lost its licence after ACMA, the broadcasting watchdog overseeing radio licences, took it away, ruling HR wasn’t complying with requirements around community participation.

Since then, no single licence has been awarded. Temporary short-term licences have been renewed for almost four years.

President Calvert says that has gone on for too long and action needs to be taken by ACMA to award a single licence.

“The community needs to have one radio station with one long term licence holder,” Mr Calvert said.

“The current situation is detrimental to the long term survival of local radio and is not conducive to proper community communication.

“The fires and floods last year showed the need for us to have an effective radio station. The solution is totally in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. I have written to ACMA and to the Minister for Communications seeking some action but they have allowed it to drag on for years.”

Mr Calvert was invited by the Harmony FM board to be its President after former radio and TV personality Graeme Webb stepped aside from the President position following an illness.

“I had been asked to join the board before this and then when Graeme stood down I was invited by the board to step up, “ Cllr Calvert told the Post.

Mr Calvert has had a lot of experience running local community groups, and he's been a Hawkesbury councillor since 1999.

He was Deputy Mayor in 2017 and 2018 and Mayor in 2019 and 2020. He’s also been President of WSROC since 2019.

Cllr Calvert was born and grew up in Western Sydney and moved to the Hawkesbury in 1986. He worked as a teacher at Hawkesbury High school in the 1990s and his children all went to local schools.

He says he has always had a fondness for radio, and has appeared many times to talk about issues surrounding his work with council, WSROC, and his two runs at State parliament in the 1990s.

“After a number of years appearing on local radio stations as well as national and western Sydney stations, I became aware of the professional manner in which Harmony conducted business and the strong links they were forging with the community. I wanted to be there on the ground floor as the station grows and develops,” Cllr Calvert said.

Harmony FM President Barry Calvert with one of his music idols - the great Frank Ifield

“I have had a great deal of experience as chairman or president of not for profit organisations and I believe that I have many skills that I can bring to the role. The station is only in its early days and I would like to help make sure that all the administration systems are established correctly so that the station can concentrate on its role as a communicator in the community.

“The Board and management of Harmony are all performing very well and the community feedback I have received has all been extremely positive. I want to work with the Board and management to help the station to continue to develop to such a stage that the community recognises it as a source of genuine up to date local information and as a partner with the community in all community matters,” Mr Calvert said.

“I have spent the last 35 years in the Hawkesbury fighting for more resources for our community and for a better share of government expenditure. I have also been trying to protect our semi-rural lifestyle and solve our local traffic problems. These matters and many others continue to be of significant importance to our community and I am hoping that Harmony will provide a vehicle for genuine community discussion and input.

“Our community deserves to have a single full time radio station licence holder and I will continue to lobby the Commonwealth Government to make this happen.”

It will be interesting to see if President Calvert can get any further than ex-Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett, who in August 2018 put up a motion passed at Hawkesbury Council to get in touch with ACMA with a strident call for a single radio licence for the Hawkesbury. The now Deputy Mayor also called on Macquarie MP Susan Templeman who has been working hard behind the scenes ever since to get some action from ACMA.

The licence saga is almost like a long running radio show. Let's just hope it can come to a happy ending for Hawkesbury radio listeners.

Disclaimer: Hawkesbury Post editor Tony Bosworth appears on Harmony FM once a week to discuss local Hawkesbury news. The Post does not have any financial or other connection with Harmony FM.

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