AFTER 15 years of prayers and part-time broadcasts, Newcastle's Rhema FM
has finally won the licence to transmit permanently at 99.7 on the FM band.
The Australian Broadcasting Authority said late yesterday that the Christian
broadcaster would return to the airwaves on December 1 on a permanent community
Rival applicant Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) Radio has been transmitting
programming for the print-handicapped on 99.7 since August 2.
The frequency is the only high-power FM radio channel available in Newcastle.
Rhema was selected over VIP and two other applicants, Beatz Community Radio
Broadcasting, which proposed a youth dance music station, and Hellenic Australia
Radio, which proposed a service for the Greek community.
ABA chairman David Flint said in a statement yesterday that Rhema had
demonstrated `the capacity to provide its service to a more significant degree'
than the other applicants.
Rhema FM, which is part of a network of some 100 Christian broadcasters
across Australia and New Zealand, has permanent studio premises in Newcastle
Rhema general manager John Marks said last night that his nine paid staff, 25
volunteers, 5000 members and 300 sponsors would be `absolutely ecstatic' with
the ABA's decision.
`It's been a long time coming but we thank God,' Mr Marks said.
Rhema broadcasts what Mr Marks describes as `good, clean wholesome radio',
including `easy-listening contemporary Christian music' and internationally
syndicated religious talk programs.