A change of pace, a twist of anxiety!

I suffer from an anxiety disorder and I’m finding more of the people I know are impacted by their own anxiety issues. I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook by Sarah Wilson called “First, we make the beast beautiful”. This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to and it spoke volumes to me, it is the first time I’ve heard near the full spectrum of another persons’ journey with anxiety. I thoroughly recommend it to any person who has anxiety in their life, the similarities in my life with Sarah’s are extraordinary. If you do listen, you will hear much of what I also go through on a regular basis.

Australians are searching “Anxiety” in Google more than any other country. In 2007 the interest was 30 and in March 2019 hit 100. I can’t help but think Technology has a major part to play in this.

Consumer Habits – Banking

I still recall Richard Branson taking out a full page newspaper ad when he tried to get Virgin into their current domestic airport terminal in Sydney for a decent price. He called the Macquarie Bank, “a bunch of bankers”. Which is much of how I regard banks now, the interest rate through banks is appalling. I tend to go for no fee accounts and credit cards using tools such as finder.com.au to find a good deal. I did have an AMEX no annual fee frequent flyer points card but after a second bad ordeal with ANZ who manage the service here I left. That and the fact that AMEX is not accepted anywhere near as much as VISA or Mastercard and I’m told they make merchants wait 90 days for payment. I may try to get a St George No Annual Fee card later which will have my regular bill transactions only.

If you are a wealthy person you can take part in frequent flyer incentive signups and swap cards regularly to earn maximum points.

For the moment I’ve settled on MeBank which is derived from Australian Super Funds, any ATM fee reimbursement, use paypass 4 times in a month and you get bonus interest on your online savings account. Their Frank credit card also has no annual fee. The only downside I find with MeBank is their transactions take a day or three to show on internet banking. I also have an RACQ bank account which gives me access as a member to their rewards discounts scheme. The same with Suncorp, but with an added bonus that you can have free sub accounts to help you manage your money better.

A tip for you, when regular large deposits go into your account, setup automatic transfers to separate accounts. If you don’t see as much money in your account you are less likely to spend. A reminder that most banks transfer out in the morning and deposit in the evening, so you might like to setup your transfers for the day after any deposits come in.

The game changer is RAIZ, this allows you to invest your money through a third party app. With incentives such as account top ups where it invests roundups of transactions on your bank/credit cards and also rewards if you purchase online transactions through their partners. Yes there is more risk than a bank but the returns are substantially more than a bank.

If you want a tool to manage your money by viewing across accounts and credit cards which I’ve previously mentioned then getpocketbook.

Bargains this week (from Wed):

Coles: Blackmores Fish Oil 100mg 400 pack $15 – ½ Price

Watch this website for a new addition to the left pane, I’ll be adding referral incentives for common products and services I use. You save and I save together!!!

Are we saying goodbye to AM radio?

The latest vehicles have no AM radio or the menu option is buried far down the command tree. Australia adopted the DAB+ radio standard but this is not ideal for current far reaching AM transmitters in rural areas of the country. I believe that DRM and HD Radio are being looked at again, both are In-Band-On-Channel technologies.

There are also areas where AM commercial licences are being replaced by FM. There is nothing being said about AM NAS licences which are held above the normal AM frequency range and can be received in most modern cars.

I’m not sure that digital radio is the right move for the industry, I think there needs to be more effort in online streaming platforms to deliver services for the future. Bear in mind there is no digital terrestrial solution for sub metro stations or low power open narrowcasters at this point in time.

Consumer Habits – Dining/Takeaway

This is an area where I believe people are spending too much and it’s probably most likely to be because someone doesn’t feel like cooking at the end of a day. I keep an eye out on Ozbargain for deals with Menulog, Deliveroo and Uber Eats and read reviews on Zomato. Signing up to a loyalty club of a local restaurant can also be beneficial. I recently went to a locals’ night at a highly regarded restaurant and had a beautiful Chicken Supreme dish for only $20, the gnocchi were beautiful golden pillows of fluffiness. Normally a dish like this is around $33.

I’m yet to try this but first table sounds like a great option for an early cheap meal.

Bargains to watch out for this week (start Wed) – 

Coles: Red Island Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 Litre $8 (half price)

Woolworths: Australia’s Own Organic Almond Unsweetened Milk 1 Litre $1.40 (half price), Moccona Classic Freeze Dried Coffee 400g $16 Save $8, Sunrice Jasmine Rice 5kg $8.50 (half price)

Shared Core Values and Mission

Too often I’ve come across community stations that have a team that aren’t all working towards the same common mission. Where does the problem lie you may well ask? Well I believe it stems from either a failure of setting a mission statement from the very start of the public meeting to get a station off the ground and perhaps more importantly checking each year if that is still relevant in the current or prospective future environment.

Radio Futurologist James Cridland this week released in his newsletter this week startling results from a BBC UK Radio RAJAR Listenership data analysis. It shows that primarily pop music is the primary source listened to across all age groups ranging from 33.2-45.1% and interestingly 22.6% for talk in the 55+ age group where others groups were less than 8%. Specialty/Ethic/Nostalgia/Classical were less than 8% on all age groups. I think internet streaming services has catered for these other categories today.

In order for a radio station to make its mark and cater to its community the team needs to adopt shared core values and work towards the underlying mission statement. There are too many rogue individuals in stations that aren’t achieving this and begs the question are they there for the community as a service person or are they there to service for themselves?

Consumer Habits – Prescriptions / Medical

I’m one that uses the warehouse pharmacists, simply because they have the best price although some of the family independently owned pharmacies tend to pass on the full concession discount. If the pharmacy is not passing on the full discount, ask for it when placing your script in.

Medical fees are huge these days, most places I go to I’m bulk billed but if you are looking for a decent GP that will provide you with good personal service try the GP Super Clinics who can also offer you a Walk-In clinic on the days that you need to see someone but can’t get an appointment. Ask family and friends who they recommend as a GP as it is a real minefield. Something worth noting though is that GPs don’t get any diet or nutrition education so it would be wise to see at least a nutritionist. I’m told the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian is that the later also has practiced in a hospital as part of their education.

If your mental health needs a boost, I recommend getting a GP Mental Health plan which allows for up to 10 sessions with a therapist and HCFs Gold Private Health Hospital coverage is the best by far which includes nil excess for same day admissions. If you have a chronic illness then an allied health plan allows you 4-5 sessions with a specialist. 

As someone who spends a fortune on health I’m always looking at ways to reduce this area of my budget. If you are looking to change your health insurance coverage or wanting to check if you are getting the best deal then I can’t recommend more than to talk to a broker service such as John Small Health & Travel Insurance Advisory. I’m with health.com.au for extras and you can see through their online tool how much you’ve used of your eligible claim categories.

Bargains to watch this week:

Nothing from the supermarkets this week but the online Click Frenzy event starts 6pm AEDT today.

Saving money on broadcast equipment

First up, you need to know what equipment to look out for, is it a need or a desire? Gumtree, eBay, Facebook groups, GraysOnline, AllBids and Cash Converters are all different places you will find broadcast equipment. But you really need to do your research in what will work out ok in your facility. Just networking with techs in the industry is a good way also to gain from surplus equipment.

I’ve probably managed to buy 3-5 items over the last couple of years through these methods which improves the radio stations I assist and a bonus is that the CBF grant process now allows community stations to put forward used equipment for purchase requests.

Consumer Habits – Laundry & Dry Cleaning

Not too much to say on this subject, when it comes to laundry I use Ecostore liquid to reduce impact on the environment. I wash in cold water and dry using the clothesline or rack only. When it is sunny on the coast 300 days a year on average you make use of the sunshine.

I rarely get any dry cleaning done, the occasional doona and suit for special occasions. Due to my height I almost always needs the hem taken up on new pants. I find people on Gumtree willing to do this much cheaper than retail outlets and also Op Shops could have pants that suit your size without need for alteration.

Bargains to watch out for this week:

Woolworths: Moccona Coffee 400gm $14 save $10, iCare 100% Recycled Toilet Paper Double Length 3Ply 6Pack $5.20 Save $1.30

Coles: XO Crunch Freedom Foods $2 (½ Price), Mainland Buttersoft Butter $5 Save $1.70

Support Organisations for Community Radio in Australia

The recent Community Broadcasting Association of Australia conference and award ceremony has prompted this blog post. I’ve been in contact with them since the early 90s when Christina Alvarez was the friendly voice on the other end of the phone. Back then the organisation produced an A-Z guide on community radio that you could refer to for all different aspects of community broadcasting.

Fast forward to today and I feel as if the organisation is stuck in the dark ages of how community radio first started. They don’t seem to have evolved and in particular have not recognised that 75% of the over 400 community radio stations are in regional areas. When you look at the awards recipients list, the bulk of awards have been granted to metropolitan stations. In my opinion there is nothing more special than a sub-metro or regional generalist broadcaster that has helped discuss community issues and fostered the well-being and growth of the communities they serve.

None of the awards recipients were allowed to provide an acceptance speak and nor was there a background story to help justify why they won the award. I know that would make for a long night but there needs to be a story at least in print form to learn from their achievement and why the judges awarded as they did.

I believe that the CBAA outsources the organisation of the conference, the costs are extremely prohibitive from attending especially for regional attendees.

Resource wise the CBAA needs an electronic searchable knowledgebase to cut down on the amount of repeat information enquiries much like the old A-Z guide. I’m concerned that it seems that the appointment of CBAA employees appears to be university graduates that have come through university affiliated radio stations. I think Commercial Radio Australia is ahead of the game recruiting from people who knocked on the back door of their local regional broadcaster.

I’m a growing fan of the Southern Community Media Association, while I’ve not attended their conference, the feedback I get from attendees is full of positivity. At these types of events it’s the pure personal networking amongst stations that outweighs the conference topic sessions. There is so much to be gained from sharing experiences between other stations. My only disappointment is that as a body that nationally represents sub-metros and regional broadcasters is that the conference is difficult to get to geographically being held in Wagga Wagga.

I believe the community sector can do much better but need to have stronger ties with one another.

Consumer Habits – Clothing/Footwear

Before I get on to this weeks post, grab yourself a free shower timer to cut down on your water usage – https://www.wateraid.org/au/save-water-with-a-free-shower-timer

In the last 6 months I entered an Op Shop for the first time, I walked into a wonderland of possibilities. For a good cause and puts a stop on the consumerism cycle of always buying new. I now don’t mind buying clothes from these places and in someways it can be a saviour because whenever I buy a new pair of pants I have to have the hem taken up which just makes it even more costly.

I still buy my underwear and socks new, a local shoe warehouse has great white bamboo socks which are very difficult to come across. My latest underwear source has been H&M which to me feels like the IKEA of clothing. If I do buy new clothes I try TK-MAXX formerly known as Factory Seconds.

Footwear however is a bit of a stumbling block for me because I use orthotic inserts in my shoes. I’m not sure if the Athlete’s Foot or Foot Locker are worth the bricks and mortar. It is much cheaper to buy shoes online but without being able to test them out is a real pain. How do you approach footwear, post a comment below and let me know….

Bargains to watch this week:

Coles: 20% off Catch of the Day gift Cards

Woolworths: Tuffy Paper Towels ½ Price

Is community radio its own worst enemy?

Having been involved in the community radio sector for over 25 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes throughout the time. I remember a time where we had AM regional commercial stations while there were community stations on temporary community radio licences being only able to broadcast for 90 days a year in maximum spans of 30 days at a time. Commercial Radio Australia was successful in getting legislation for existing AM commercial stations to gain supplementary FM licences, often referred to section 39.

Community radio remains the easiest test ground for trying different programming and formats with the ability to change things up on a whim. In the early days it was not uncommon for every couple of hours for the music format to change, catering for multiple genres at different times perhaps known as strip programming.

Fast forward to today, there are now multiple avenues to have access to different genres of music, largely thanks to the internet platform. Australia has grown to have over 350 licenced community radio stations spread right across the country. The strength of community radio lies in being able to cater specifically to the geographical licence area rather than a national network syndication. Professional radio is lucky to have 3 hours of local radio delivery a day, where as community radio is much more likely to fill most or all of the day with local voices.

I toyed with the title being “is community radio imploding?”, so let me enlighten you further to this query. Community radio stations can have geographic areas of metro wide which are not allowed to use a general format, I suspect due to the impact it would have on professional radio. Then there are sub metro stations that can broadcast to less than a handful of suburbs which typically continue to do strip programming but emphasise their community through outside broadcasts, while other sub metros can come close to covering about a third of a capital city, sub metros are allowed to have a general format. In order to engage a wider audience during business hours, general format broadcasters have adopted playlisting and this has spread through to regional community broadcasters.

While regional community broadcasters too can have varying geographical coverage, it can be further clarified through transmission power output. A typical regional community broadcaster in a small town is commonly around 250 watt output power, but when the 1993 Draft Australian Broadcasting Authority Licence Area Plans were devised the body decided for stations in existing commercial licence areas, the community licences to be granted would match those of the commercial stations eg 2-10 Killowatts depending on topography.

So why am I talking about community radio being its own worst enemy? Well it would seem that the volunteer base that make up community stations fear sounding commercial or more to the point, more professional. Volunteers who have enjoyed from the start by playing their own music in a shift time slot that suits their availability and having a say on how the station should sound, through member consultation meetings.

But a growing number of these volunteers do very little in assisting with the operation of what is essentially a not-for-profit business. It takes a board of management to ensure there is enough money for day to day operations, equipment and running a 24x7x365 day service. The board implements policy and procedure to ensure the operation is compliant while supporting the community it serves. The Australian Government has in the last few years commissioned a study which made a bold statement that could lead to less or even no further government funding. So community stations will feel the need to become self-funded through subscription and/or sponsorship models.

The problem lies in community stations that don’t take advantage of the knowledge from those involved in professional broadcast or from associations that help community stations build support networks between one another and learn from shared experiences. Remember professional radio has compiled huge amounts of market research over the years. If your board or member base lacks radio experience other than their own station, they need to seek it out. Too much of the time I see opinion based on next to no evidence rather than factual information that can actually assist a station. For example, on air breaks where someone talks about the music rather than something of impact to the local geographic community where value and objective actually lies.

Consumer Habits – Alcohol

I have to admit, I rarely drink. But when I do I generally purchase from Dan Murphys possibly as a member special and using Cashrewards to purchase a gift card with 5% off I love ordering online and picking up in store although they need an option to select a chilled item. I think if you are a wine drinker, then perhaps a wine club is more of a saving. I tend not to keep alcohol at home because someone will end up drinking it sooner rather than later. It’s extremely rare for me to drink beer and I actually bought one at the local pub recently and got quite the shock at the price. It’s no wonder people are purchasing at the local liquor outlet rather than a venue. I do need to mention Dindima Wines who now make wine on the property I grew up on for most of my childhood.

Bargains to watch this week:

A tip first, if any of these specials are not in stock, ask for a raincheck and you will likely get at the advertised price when the product is in stock next time you are in store.

Coles: Red Island Extra Virgin Olive Oil 500mL1/2 PRICE $4, Freedom Foods XO Crunch 285g 1/2 PRICE $2, Kleenex Double Length Toilet Tissue 12 Pack $10, Save $2.00 

Woolworths: Mainland Buttersoft 375g $5.00 each Save $1.70 

Live from the Central Coast sort of…

This week I’m typing this blog entry up from the Central Coast of NSW, Terrigal to be more precise. It’s an area I don’t know too much about apart from having family here that I’m catching up with. I’ve been trying to catchup with old friends here and in Sydney for this trip, but people live very busy lives. I found where Star 104.5 studios are located but Shayne Sinclair is in Sydney for the week and in Brisbane for the Commercial Radio Awards. The Community Broadcasting Association awards aren’t too far away either. You have to nominated to be considered for a finalist position. The awards remind us of the passion we put in to make great media, I wish all finalists good luck in their chosen categories.

I’ve also returned to the airwaves at FM107.5 after being asked to pull a shift here and there. Technology is a wonderful tool when it works correctly, and we try to improve on it as time goes by. I’ve been asked by a few people to do some paid work for voiceovers and that will come to fruition soon.

Consumer Habits – Groceries

This is obviously a big expenditure in most peoples’ eyes and I must say it’s something I’ve altered significantly in the last few years. I purchase my meat through a local butcher and the same with fruit and vegetables. I find this gets me better quality, less processed and prices are much better. I feel so sorry for people who are stuck buying these items at a supermarket. Having said that, Supermarket wise I only buy minimal items such as Milk and whatever I find on special or need. I spend minimal time in supermarkets now as I just stick to my list and get out. But there is one major difference I’ve been doing in the last year, if I am purchasing from Woolworths and I know from researching online that my spend will be over $30 then I use the pickup service and regardless of spend at either Coles or Woolworths I now use gift cards which save me between 4-5%. I mean why wouldn’t you if you can shave a bit off, I use Cashrewards which gives me 5% off Woolworths and 4% off either using Suncorp Rewards, which is handy because you can do it at the self-checkout on your phone if need be. I’m a member of Flybuys, Woolworths Rewards and IGA Rewards, there is little benefit, but they do help you track specials on things you have purchased in your history.

Bargains to watch this week:

Woolworths Exclusive – Darrel Lea chocolate bars $2.50 (half price)

Personal Reflection

I’ve been spending time recharging my batteries, swimming in the morning doing about 9 laps of a 25-metre pool in the space of 30 minutes with an occasional gym session in the afternoon. I’ve cut back on processed food including sugar and finding a sense of calmness. Sundays I find myself reading books about being frugal, side hustles and how to find the work you desire. My preferred working environment with an employer is to do something that at the end of the day it doesn’t spill over into my personal life or the next working day. I intend to keep up this blog as an experimental ground, who is reading this and what do they find beneficial I wonder?

Consumer Habits – Household Services

There are mainly two household services that I make use of. Originally when I moved here I would mow the lawns and do the edging which proved difficult work for me not to mention the outlay for the equipment and running costs. I approached the real estate for a recommendation for a contractor who ended up charging $60 but then our neighbour put us on to a service only costing $30 (Stuart Gosling – Doo Doo Property Maintenance 0412 320 396), now I’m looking at getting rid of the noisy whipper snipper or line trimmer as they like to call them now.

The other aspect is carpet cleaning, I like to get this done at least every 12 months and I give Noddy a call from Brightaire Property Services 0412 587 944. He’s also one of the guys on air at night at Sunshine FM.

Bargains to watch this week:

Coles: Mainland Buttersoft 375g $5 Save $1.70

Volunteer vs Paid Opportunities

I feel I need to draw a line for myself when it comes between volunteer and paid opportunities in the not for profit sector. I started in radio back in 1993 and the amount of volunteer hours I’ve delivered over this time in short is somewhat excessive. Through this time, I’ve specialised in various aspects of broadcast delivery. It’s only been the last five years or so that I’ve implemented some paid parameters in my involvement.  I’m currently investigating the possibility of running a radio website that brings together key information for running a service and weighing up the pros and cons. Radio is definitely in my blood, so I suspect some sort of paid recognition of my labour will be devised. It is difficult for not for profits to determine when they should actually pay for a person’s time. For those community stations struggling to manage their radio station with volunteer board members, I can’t express enough how much a paid part-time or full-time station manager could benefit your organisation. This is especially important for running the day to day operations, putting out fires and giving the board the opportunity to focus on long term vision and direction.

Consumer Habits – Pocketbook

I’m taking a bit of a break from my exploration of expenses this week to persuade you to start using an app called Pocketbook. This neat little app uses your internet banking logins to pull all your transactions from bank accounts and credit cards to be visible in the one space. Breaking each transaction down to a category used by most users or specified by yourself. I can’t express how much this helps you track spending and adjust as you see fit.

Bargains to watch this week:

Coles: Red Island Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 Litre $8 (half price), Blackmores Fish Oil 1000mg 400 Pack $15 (half price).

Getting your software right!

Running a radio station relies on having decent software that matches your desired workflow. From your administration to your on-air output there are multiple software packages there to assist you in the operations. 

Note in the Radio Hyperlinks page I created on the left-hand side there are many varied possibilities. I don’t recommend just whacking in the first software you come across but chat with others in forums or your professional network to get a good grasp on what is thought to be a good or great solution. It will depend on your requirements and the budget, there is no doubt RCS wins most professional clients, but it comes at a hit to the pocket. 

Comparing playout systems is probably the most difficult and controversial topic as there as so many aspects to consider. Remember if you change one software package it can have an impact on others that interact with your current package. Also remember that a software or cloud solution may not be as good as a physical hardware rack unit fit for purpose.

Consumer Habits – Contents Insurance

I recall Ned Flanders from the Simpsons didn’t have insurance because he considered it gambling. Well I guess he is sort of right, but I’d rather have it than be without it as you never know what can happen.

I recently changed my contents insurance to Youi and saved a substantial amount of money. I recommend contents insurance to any adult and each year shop around for a better deal as insurance companies typically spit out an automated renewal amount which will more than likely be higher. The insurance companies use numerous data sets to work out how risky insuring you will be and I get that it can be really frustrating.

Don’t forget to include your special treasured collections and anything you are likely to travel with worth a large amount of money.

Bargains to watch this week:

Woolworths – Moccona Classic Freeze Dried Coffee 400g $16 (Save $8), Mainland Buttersoft 375g $5 (Save $1.70)

Coles Boost Recharge 80GB 12 month expiry $135 (Save $15) I’m using this product!, 20% off iTunes Gift Cards $30,$50,$100. Bega Block Cheese 1kg $9 (Save $2)