From the site of Windsor’s old water tank and tower, the broadcast runs 24/7 and can now be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Despite the difficulties that Hawkesbury Radio faced when losing their community radio licence, the transition to online is far from the first major change that Steve Wilkins, current President and Treasurer of Hawkesbury Radio, has seen at the station since he began in 2004.
“When I started, pretty much everyone was using CDs,” he says. “I’d walk in with two cases, and you feel your arms getting longer as you walk towards the studio. And then you get someone ringing up to say ‘Oh, can you play such and such a song?’ You’d say ‘Yep, it’s here somewhere,’ and have to flick through all of them.”
Steve believes that evolving with the times is a necessary step for the station: “It’s an exciting time for radio. Everything gets reinvented, and I think we’re in for a reinvention of music as well. It’ll be fresh, invigorating and will bring people back to radio, and it will be what it’s always been.”
Nowadays, the Hawkesbury Radio studio is filled with technology that Steve says is “lightyears” ahead of what they had twenty years ago — that technology enabling the station to persevere, providing companionship and entertainment to the people of the Hawkesbury.
The relationship between the station and its listeners goes both ways, with Hawkesbury Radio providing essential information in times of natural disaster. “Everybody wants to know exactly what’s going on, and radio is becoming relied upon as that source of information,” Steve says.
He recalls a time in 2019 where he stayed on air for seven hours to help provide people information about the huge Windsor Downs fire: “We were getting phone calls from people who were worried about their properties, and they were searching for that information on Facebook and weren’t finding it. We were able to track a lot of the fire, thanks to input from our listeners who could tell us what was going on.”
Through its transition to an exclusively online broadcaster, Hawkesbury Radio can now fully operate on its own terms and better serve its community. Whether you’re five minutes away in the Windsor Mall or thousands of kilometres away in Europe, the station is only a few clicks away from playing on your phone.
“It’s made better by the people and environment of the Hawkesbury – it has that real sense of identity and location,” comments Steve. “People in the Hawkesbury are a part of the Hawkesbury. It presents that mix of urban, rural bush and everything else. There’s so much to see and do here that people don’t even realise!”
You can listen to Hawkesbury Radio either through the iHeartRadio app, or via their website: hawkesbury.radio