Making Radio Waves

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L-R: Lilah Otto, Gerowyn Lacaze, Robert Willadsen, Jett Palmer, Stephen Molloy, Sarah Beer

Capella is nestled away from the bustling cities and features a single street lined with houses and shops stretching along it. Its unique charm stems from a history entwined with coal mining and agriculture.

Capella was founded on traditional Wangan land in the 1860s by graziers influenced by the good reports of Ludwig Leichhardt. Today, nine Bowen Basin coal mines operate within an hour’s drive of Capella, further shaping its character.

Within this rich backdrop, the Capella State High School Radio Station, StarFM, resonates through the airwaves. @ The Coalface spoke to school leader, Mr Ruby Foster, about the school radio station and what it has to offer.

“StarFM is one of those unique engagement opportunities that empowers students to find their voice and connect within their community,” he shared.

Drawing from his experience in radio and a desire to expand the projects available to young people, Mr Foster and his devoted teacher Mr Stephen Molloy brought the lunchtime radio program to life. Mr Foster, who previously worked at Tune FM in Armidale said that their goal is to provide their rural students with the same opportunities as their coastal and city peers.

A generous $15,000 grant from Glencore allowed the program to equip itself with top-notch tools, including high-quality condenser microphones, an electronic up-down desk, a cutting-edge Rode Rodecaster and automation software.

It also allowed for the conversion of what was previously the dark room into a dedicated broadcast studio. This repurposed space, nestled within the workshop block, has been equipped with proper sound-dampening wall panels to enhance the acoustic environment and provide a haven for creative broadcasting.

This investment ensures that the students have access to professional-grade resources, enabling them to explore their creative potential to the fullest and enhancing the overall experience.

QATCF 22 Capella 3

StarFM’s impact goes beyond school walls, serving as a stage for students of all grades to express themselves and engage with their community. Mr Foster said that even students at risk of disengagement have found a renewed sense of purpose through their involvement. Beyond the music, the lunchtime radio initiative nurtures creativity, confidence, and self-expression.

During a recent visit, Julieanne Gilbert, the Labor Member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for Education, had the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact of the radio program. As part of her engagement with rural schools, Julieanne met with students, teachers and staff members.

“I was so impressed with Capella High School’s Radio Station which is such a great vehicle for developing self-confidence and creativity amongst students,” she said.

Mr Foster strongly encouraged other schools to follow suit, saying, “They absolutely should. It’s an innovative way to engage students.”

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