‘A living, breathing organisation’: PBS heralds ‘a new era’ for Melbourne community radio
23.05.2022

‘A living, breathing organisation’: PBS heralds ‘a new era’ for Melbourne community radio

PBS
Words by Joanne Brookfield

“It’s not an easy process, moving a radio station,” says Adrian Basso, the outgoing general manager of PBS 106.7FM, in something of an understatement.

In his 15-years steering the community radio station – champions of local artists, little-heard music, niche genres and under-represented voices – Basso has ensured they’ve continued broadcasting through a global financial crisis, the Covid pandemic and, most recently, physically relocating every last piece of equipment to the station’s shiny new high-tech home.

With the 2022 PBS Radio Festival now in full swing, when volunteer presenters ask listeners to ‘Complete The Connection’ by either joining or renewing their membership, they’re doing so from the $2.5 million digital studios they moved into over Christmas, which are conveniently located 200 metres from their previous building. Public support is the bedrock upon which PBS can not only survive, but thrive.

Read Melbourne’s most comprehensive range of music features and interviews here.

PBS, which stands for Progressive Broadcasting Service, began life back in the late ’70s in St Kilda, moving to Easey Street in Collingwood in 2001. “We knew that was coming to an end, because the building got sold and the new people weren’t going to extend any further terms,” explains Basso of the move they had been logistically pre-planning for years.

“Collingwood Yards popped up just around the corner, which timing wise, was perfect. Conceptually, perfect,” he says of the Johnson Street location, where they are now neighbours with The Push, Music Victoria “and a whole bunch of other like-minded music organisations, or just creative organisations, so it’s a precinct that’s bustling with creativity.

“When the opportunity came about we put in an expression of interest and were the first tenant to be announced, and because of the complexity of building studios and all the tech, we’re the last tenant to move in.”

The relocation process involved 25 large skip bins as they demolished the old studios, salvaging what they could for others to benefit from. “A lot of the stuff we repurposed, like some of the old desks we gave to other community radio stations, so we’ve sent one up to an Indigenous station in central Australia,” he says.

Some pieces of history made their way across, such as the old entrance doors with their “little PBS backlit light, quite a part of the fabric of the station” that featured in the background of countless guest Instagram photos. They’re now inside, decorating the corridors.

“Sort of like Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you open them up, but there’s nothing behind it.”

The move has also included updating a lot of gear. “This is probably the first time that we’ve had a lot of new stuff, ever,” he states emphatically. “Most of the time it’s been secondhand, recycled, reused, like we’ve re-purposed a lot of things because that’s the nature of what we like to do. We’re not into contributing to landfill, by any means; and always quite frugal. But it’s nice to have something new that we know is brand new and it won’t break!”

Impressively, the move was navigated without a moment of dead air, as they continued broadcasting the entire time. PBS, which can also be listened to via digital radio, web-streaming and PBS-On-Demand, can now settle in to the next chapter.

“It’s like when it moved from St Kilda to Collingwood. This is a new era for the station, new facilities in an exciting precinct, and all that that brings, there’s lots of possibilities,” says Basso, which is why come mid-year, he will step down as GM.

“The station is fully equipped for the future and I think it’s just time for me to do something else, and hand over the reins to someone who can write the next chapter,” he says.

 

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Basso says he’s proud to be leaving PBS 106.7FM poised for an exciting future. “That’s not just for us,” he clarifies. “It’s for music lovers, musicians, it’s for the community. I feel like a custodian of an institution and it’s a quite a living and breathing organisation.”

While PBS exists for the listeners, they also can’t function without listener support. “We need people to get behind us to keep this great institution going, so it’s the time of year that fills the tank and keeps us on the journey for the coming year,” he says of the current membership campaign.

As he prepares for his final day, Basso says his time there has been both wonderful and rewarding, and moving on is not without emotion. “Yeah, I’ll miss the place. But, there’ll be the next me, they’ll go through it and then they can miss the place. Hopefully, the station will be here for decades and decades to come and I’ve got no doubt it will”.

Listen to PBS live online here.