Southern Cross Austereo (Regional)

also played a lot of stuff that in other areas you’d only hear on JJJ (that was before JJJ was rolled out in regional areas including Shepparton, which was the beginning of the end for Sun FM in their original format).

Speaking of SUN FM, does anyone know what was the rationale behind them switching from 107.7 to 96.9?

Correct. A brush with Chris Lodge as the Lismore GM like many great announcers have experienced.

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because of ABGV3 and AMV4 still transmitting on these frequencies. Once they moved to ABGV40 and AMV11, it cleared the band for Sun FM to move to 96.9 (which is roughly halfway between the sound frequencies of channels 3 and 4).



Did that mean that they had better coverage on 96.9 as a result ie. was the power on 107.7 limited to protect eg 3SHI at Swan Hill?

From what I understand, Sun FM moving from 107.7 to 96.9 happened a few years before Mixx FM (3SHI) Swan Hill went to air, which the latter happened in September 1997 (20 years ago this month).


This was long before that s.39 went to air. SUN didn’t operate on that freq for very long and as stated, all about Band II TV allocations.

Shep has always been a very competitive market, applications for the FM licence were hotly contested, 3SR naturally unhappy and like their other incumbent, GMV-6, not adept at dealing with competition.

Sun went downhill when 3SR hit trouble and they bought 3SR out. Then came the third commercial licence and instead of competition (again hotly contested), brought RG Capital (now SCA, where regional Rhys came from to wreck Austereo) in as 50/50 JV partner and then bid for the 3rd commercial licence in Albury, the first licence auction DMG gave up on bidding to win (until the momentous defeat on the Gold Coast), hence 105.7 The River.

You’d think Bendigo or Ballarat would’ve been more fertile ground for competition however the radio dynamics there were quite sleepy and some would argue still are. Shep has a good TX site for lots of highway audience from Broadford to Albury and north up the Newell into NSW. Lots of high field strength fortuitous overlap to Wang, Albury, Deni and Bendigo which in those days didn’t have FM save for 104.9 Albury later on.


Sorry but I’m a bit confused when you’re talking a third commercial licence in Shep. Am I forgetting something?

I guess Shep had the advantage that it’s far enough north that Melbourne stations aren’t a factor - same probably can’t be said for parts of Bendigo’s licence area and most of Ballarat’s, hence the ‘sleepy’ dynamics (read Geelong if you want an excellent definition of that term)

You’re right about those FM TXs from Mt Major getting out too, both those and Mt Alexander (Bendigo) go a long, long way and can be heard well into NSW. 3SR/Sun are still thereabouts in Narrandera if you’re trying hard enough

I think he means 95.3… 1260 and 96.9 being the first two (1260 is now just a RSN relay?).

Oh, it’s one of those cities where the racing station is still technically a commercial station? That makes sense. I’d just presumed 3SR FM converted and Sun FM was a s.39, but by @crankymedia 's talk above it sounds like Sun was a totally new licence. Should do my homework next time!

Yes, 3BT Ballarat is the other regional VIC market where RSN is operating on a commercial licence with no local programming.

I believe RSN came to an agreement with the ACMA to operate them this way as they are apparently not making any money on it and are doing it as a community service, or something like that.

945 Bendigo, also RSN, is a HPON, so is not subject to those requirements.

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I am surprised that the company who owned the Easymix stations didn’t get hold of the old 3SR and 3BT frequency’s.


Well, look up the control list of directors, esp for 3BT. Janet convinced her regional radio proprietor buddies to buy the licence to stave off competition. RSN lease it and great, no real competition. All done at a time when the 'Rat didn’t have a local ABC either.

The old 3BO spot is a HPON as 3CV was amalgamated into the Bendigo licence area as the third commercial licence.

Back to Shep, 3SR AM was the incumbent. Licence applications saw Sun FM born, then in ABA times, second FM commercial offered for auction which the JV of RG Capital and SR/Sun bought.

The local half of the JV did well out of the MMG now SXL listing, finally paid out their half in shares.

For some reason, transparency is one of them, listed companies don’t like JVs and other subsid structures as they need their own line in the accounts, so the punters see too much (why the hell go public then I say).

Yes, SR/Sun are an easy catch in Narrandera. Unfortunately now, little difference in programming to the other SCA markets. 3NE makes in well during the day, after that west, 2QN or 774 ABC Melb is quite good outside the EMF hubbub of towns west of Wagga onwards. 5RM comes in good from Hay west, mostly automated music after midday.

A photo of the One FM building shows a 8 element FM antenna directed towards Melb, so the signal is there but beyond most setups.

Racing licences don’t have the same regional requirements as normal commercial stations:


Thanks for the detailed response. So SR never did an FM conversion per se, but purchased the auctioned FM licence - explains it, and why 1260 stays on air as a commercial

And yeah, driving the Newell it is still handy that 3SR (sorry, MMM Shep) gets out so far. 2RG carries a different log so it adds a bit of variety, at least until 2GZ from Orange can be received (I believe carrying the same log as SR?) At least it means there’s generally 1-2 varieties of adult music receivable almost halfway up to Brisbane until Bill’s talk stations take over the dial


As I recall, 3SR was owned by the Fairley Family. When the two stations rule came in, they did a deal with RG Capital to create a JV with SUN-FM. This was because they were struggling to match an FM in the profit stakes in a regional town. The later ACMA auction resulted in a second FM licence in the area, which the JV bought - converted the 3SR brand to FM and flogged the AM station to 3UZ/Racing Victoria. Again protecting the profits. As Crankymedia points out, with the MMG listing the Fairley Family did well.

Its interesting that Victoria seems to have limited competition in the regional markets with 3 stations, especially given there are no FM/AM dual operations:

Albury/Wodonga - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/ The River). The AM brand of 2AY converted to FM and reverted to AM now as an ACE relay of 3AW.

Ballarat - Grant own 3BA/Power. As noted above, the AM Station is a RSN relay.
Shepparton - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/3SR). As noted above, the AM Stations is a RSN relay.

Bendigo - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/3BO). Grant have Gold1071 (previously EasyMix) with an FM booster in Bendigo for the old 3CV frequency.
Mildura - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/3MA-SUN) with the old 3MA frequency now Grant owned River1467 (previously Easymix)

Personally, struggle to understand how Mildura could profitably operate three stations and Geelong still only have two licencees - but I understand it was more to do with politics at the time working against one family that owned 3MA and STV8. Grant are very lucky in Geelong. IMHO I think the old 3GL frequency should have been maintained as a commercial licence …


It’s a similar story in NSW:

Orange - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/2GZ), with the old 2GZ frequency now BOG owned 2EL, which is mostly a relay of 2SM/2HD.
Kempsey/Port Macquarie - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/2MC), with the old 2MC frequency now BOG owned 2PM, which is mostly a relay of 2SM/2HD, and has an FM repeater for Port Macquarie.
Coffs Harbour - SCA own Hit/MMM (Star/2CS), with the old 2CS frequency now BOG owned 2HC, which is mostly a relay of 2SM/2HD.

After 2GZ, 2MC & 2CS moved to FM, the above AM licences used to carry Easy Listening before BOG bought them in 2005 & turned them into talk stations, therefore depriving listeners in those licence areas of a 3rd commercial music station.

Off-Topic, but I would say the same thing for the old 2WL frequency in Wollongong, which would provide a music format that is completely different from i98 & Wave, who are practically sounding the same to one another.


I guess one thing that helps Mildura and is obviously a major issue for Geelong is overspill from adjacent areas.

There is very little of it into Mildura and a lot of it into Geelong from Melbourne.

Yes, 1341 would have been good for a 3rd commercial licence.

The ACMA did consider allocating 96.3 as a 3rd commercial licence in the early 2000s, but it ended up being a community licence.


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No doubt thanks to pressure from Grant. 96.3 (literally 96three is the name) is yet another Christian music station that is automated for a large part of the day and lacks much connection to the actual community. Waste of a high powered licence.


Similar situation in Maryborough/Hervey Bay in Qld where they sold the original commercial licence 1161 to TAB effectively creating a duopoly there too. It shouldn’t be allowed. ACMA have failed if they let that happen to a market that should have 3 proper commercial broadcasters.