THE Main Street end of Foster’s roofed laneway became a pop-up radio station on Thursday morning July 1, 2021.
The second half of ABC Gippsland’s popular weekday Breakfast program went to air from Foster between 8.30 am and 10 am via an outside broadcast kit set up on a folding table beside the laneway’s own chair and bench seating.
ABC presenter Amber Irving-Guthrie and producer Rio Davis drove into Foster soon after 7 am ready to meet the Corner Inlet district community and to pre-record a conversation or two with local people and organisations to play on another day.
Amber’s talk with Toora’s Mayday Women’s Forum representatives Sue Plowright and Rosemary Brooks, among others, was safely stored in the ether by the time the first of the show’s live-to-air subjects arrived ahead of transmission from 8.30 am.
Many of the interviews were linked by the overall theme of how the community had coped during and after the wild storm that hit South Gippsland and other places in Victoria so hard nearly a month ago.
Included in the line-up on Friday was Turtons Creek resident Robert Kreen who described how blown-over trees and landslips had blocked his road, and how grateful he was for his wood-fired stove with a wetback for hot water during the long post-storm power outage.
Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry president and Foster Post Office licensee Phil Rerden, and Foster North’s Llarrinda Bed and Breakfast host Linda Giddy also sat down to discuss their impressions of the storm with Amber.
Phil spoke to ABC Gippsland’s listeners on how badly several days’ worth of electrical blackout had affected local businesses, especially those selling food and who lost much if not all of their stock when refrigerators and freezers failed.
Linda said the storm had brought down a lot of trees on and around their property causing havoc in their garden, and that it had been fortunate that she and her husband Larry had already decided not to have guests staying until COVID restrictions are further eased.
South Gippsland Shire Council community safety officer Luke Mulllen talked about the massive clean-up still being undertaken throughout the municipality by council staff, contractors, SES and CFA volunteers and even Australian Defence Force members.
Foster-based Butterfly Passenger Service proprietor and constant road user Kerry Hill praised South Gippsland Shire, VicRoads and local emergency services for the efficient way they had worked together to clear the roads of such a lot of trees and branches.
Foster’s Manna Gum Community House manager Bec Matthews told Amber and the radio station audience about the incredible way the district community had come together to help people without power with donations of food, hot meals, and access to showers, device charging. and a friendly and sympathetic ear.
Mirboo North truck driver and long-term CFA member Mark Bourke talked about carting donated feed to farmers affected by fire and flood in Victoria and New South Wales, and now by the storm in South Gippsland, and how it gave them a little hope as well as feeding their livestock.
Amber also chatted with Foster artist David Bell, who designed the Foster laneway, from where the Breakfast show was being sent to Sale for broadcasting, and who created the lane’s intriguing copper pipe drinking fountain serving both humans and dogs.
Next was McCartins Road Turtons Creek resident Katie Glassock and her two children, Patrick Eadie, 9, and Jesinta Eadie, 7, who together with their husband and father Allan Eadie, were staying with relatives in Melbourne and now in local caravan parks because of storm damage to their home and a major landslip almost closing their road.
Buffalo resident and musician Peter Snell performed an original song entitled Coffee, which turned out to be an entirely appropriate choice as it coincided with the delivery of free hot drinks from Skye’s Café for the ABC staff and for many of their interviewees as well as the odd stickybeak.
It was fascinating to watch a regularly-tuned-into radio program being presented live from the middle of Foster and beaming out across the region, “from Mallacoota to Warragul, Moe to Bairnsdale, you’re listening to ABC Gippsland”, as the familiar jingle goes.
Equally interesting was to see the faces belonging to the voices many locals know well, and to learn how a laptop computer, microphones, a sound mixer, a lot of preparation, quick thinking and obvious unflappability combine to make a wireless program.
The program travels from wherever the equipment is set up through the internet to the ABC at Sale for broadcast to the world from there.
Listen to the archive of ABC Gippsland’s Foster edition of the Breakfast show broadcast recorded between 8.30 am and 10 am on Thursday July 1, 2021 at https://www.abc.net.au/radio/gippsland/station-epg/