Major moves in regional radio

RED FM’s $4.5 million acquisition of the North West Radio Network last week has stolen the spotlight from another major development in the regional radio market, which will give the population of the Mid West access to local commercial radio for the first time in almost 10 years.

Batavia Coast FM, based in Geraldton, has been granted a new licence by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, which will provide penetration deep into the heart of the Mid West of WA.

Batavia Coast FM general manager Malcolm Smith says the new licence will enable residents in seven shires of the Mid West to gain access to a local radio station with local news, weather and advertising.

Batavia Coast FM, which owns 96.5 and 98 FM, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Geraldton Newspaper Ltd, the company that publishes the Geraldton Guardian newspaper.

The greater reach provided by the new licence will provide an audience increase of about 25 per cent and offer further cross-media promotional opportunities for the regional newspaper.

“We’ve built a new 75 metre mast with new transmission equipment to relay our signal out of our transmitter here in Gerald-ton,” Mr Smith said.

“For the very first time in eight or nine years, local people in the seven shires of the Mid West will be able to chose to listen to radio out of Geraldton.”

The new licence also provides local advertisers with the opportunity to increase their brand exposure across the region, specifically targeting regional industry.

“What’s the point of having advertise-ments for seeds and agricultural supplies in relation to broadacre farming that doesn’t go on here,” Mr Smith said.

Batavia Coast radio’s expansion into the Mid West will have very little crossover with Red FM’s newly acquired North West Radio Network.

The deal announced last week and estimated to be valued at around $4.5 million will result in Red FM almost doubling its potential audience.

Red FM sales and marketing manager Jennifer Black said that, through the acquisition of North West Radio, the two stations could link-up the entire area.

Ms Black said Red FM aimed to bring a more professional, commercial sound to audiences in the north-west of the State.

“It’s not so much expanding into new markets but revamping the sound of the station,” she said.

The acquisition of North West Radio includes WAFM and some remote satellite services around Kununurra and Derby.

Advertising revenue for the North West radio and Red FM has been strong, Ms Black said, with interest from both the agencies in Perth and local businesses throughout the region.

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