Only on web for Lion FM Studio, Melbourne Jewish Radio is a major new development in the Diaspora. In Australia there were plans for an AM radio in Sydney in the period 1949-51 -- but these failed. Actual full-time Jewish Radio stations in the Diaspora have only come into existence in the past ten years. What - apart from the emergence of more radio affordable technology - has stirred this development of essentially full-time Jewish broadcasting stations? What special challenges do these and future stations in the Diaspora face ? How is it that the Melbourne Jewish Radio station Lion FM came about -- how and why did it lose its licence to broadcast in June 2011 -- and will it be revived soon ? Is there a secret history that sheds light both on the astonishing emergence of Lion FM on the Melbourne airwaves -- and the equally sudden disappearance ?
   Lion FM Melbourne and Radio 2MFM Sydney
      A Tale of Two Cities         and of two religions

Melbourne Jewish Radio - Lion FM 96.1
  • Melbourne Jewish Radio (MJR) Incorporated in 2008 with the objective of obtaining a community broadcasting license for the religious - Jewish Community in the (inner) Melbourne region.
  • MJR identified an unrecognised hole in the available FM spectrum at 96.1 Mhz.
  • On January 3, 2010 the regulating authority ACMA announed the allocation of the sought frequency for the purposes of Community Radio from mid 2010.
  • on June 29, 2010 MJR was formally granted a 12 month temporary license starting from June 14, 2010.
    The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a temporary community broadcasting licence to Melbourne Jewish Radio Inc (MJR). The licence is for twelve months from 14 June 2010 to 13 June 2011. The service is to meet the community interest of the Religious – Jewish community in the Melbourne City RA1 licence area.
  • Presenters not required to be members of MJR but required to sign an agreement that they supported the stations objectives.
  • Letter of complaint to ACMA received 8th March 2011 signed by 14 claiming three distinct breaches of ACMA license conditions.
  • ACMA announcement of June 11, 2011 that frequency used in the temporary license for Lion FM no longer to be available.
    The Australian Communications and Media Authority has decided not to make additional radiofrequency spectrum in the Melbourne City RA1 licence area available to temporary community broadcasting licensees.
  • ACMA report on complaint re Lion FM found two of the three written claims were valid at the date objection was lodged.
  • MJR had 13 members in March 2011, but 70 members in June. On June 13 there were 980 members on the Lion FM Facebook page.
Muslim Community Radio - 2MFM 92.1 Sydney
  • 2MFM provides a service to meet the ‘Religious – Islamic’ community interest.
  • After an initial temporary license period, The communal broadcasting licence for 2MFM was renewed in 2006 for a period of five years expiring on 31 May 2011.
  • Constitution requirement was that only members for three years could vote and only members for five years could serve on the management committee.
  • Constitution requirement was that presenters be members of three year standing
  • In December 2010 ACMA received complaints by both the National Council of Imans and by the Grand Mufti of Australia concerning 2MFM's failure to properly represent the diverse Muslim community
  • ACMA used demographic data to find that the community was in fact diverse in national origin of potential listeners but station was controlled by members of the Lebanese Muslim Community.
  • ACMA announcement of May 19, 2010
    The Australian Communications and Media Authority has renewed 2MFM’s community radio broadcasting licence for a further five years, after accepting an enforceable undertaking (EU) given by 2MFM to further encourage participation by members of the wider Muslim community in the Sydney RA1 licence area
  • The enforceable undertaking is totally non-specific as to the nature of the changes to be made, but specific in stating that there would be regular reports to ACMA on steps being taken to encourage broader participation.
  • See ACMA License Renewal Report on 2MFM known as Sydney Islamic Radio and Muslim Community Radio, Sydney
    Submitters to the ACMA objecting to the renewal of the 2MFM licence argued that the service provided by the licensee does not reflect the nature and diversity of the interests of the Islamic community within the Sydney RA 1 licence area.
  • The station had 449 individual members. No Facebook page.
2010-2011 The Secret History of Lion FM - How it started and stopped broadcasting on FM 96.1 Mhz
  • The frequency 96.1 FM was reserved for special events by ACMA = Australian Communication and Media Authority
  • ACMA technocrats rejects arguments for its use for Community Broadcasting
  • But ACMA is not entirely a law unto itself -- though that is its preference
  • Melbourne Jewish Radio Inc was incorporated using the model rules for non-profit Associations in Victoria in which (new) membership applications require both a nominator and a seconder who are themselves members of the Association.
  • Despite initial refusals, finally, on on January 3, 2010, ACMA granted MJR a 12 months temporary community license starting from 11 January 2010 with a requirement to commence broadcasting in 3 months.
  • Lion FM took over 6 months to commence radio transmission leaving only 5 months of the temporary licence available,
  • Stephen Fennel coaxed ACMA to revise the temporary license conditions to be for a commencement in June 13, 2010 for 12 months.
  • Initial broadcasting at 250 watt with omnidirectional aerial caused significant interference
  • ACMA required reduction in power -- this reduction was slow in coming.
  • Power was further reduced at ACMA behest but Lion FM still good listening on modern digitally tuned radios.
  • Lion FM contracted for a proper directional aerial with shielding in SW (Geelong ) direction.
  • Letter of complaint received by ACMA March 8, 2011.
  • June 9 ACMA announced the restatement of its initial position that the 96.1 Mhz FM spectrum slot was available only for Special Event broadcasting.
  • Approx June 14 contractor finally annouced sought parts available for proper directional shielding of the Lion FM transmission antenna. which would have eliminated certain technical criticism of Lion FM broadcasting.
  • July 2011 ACMA published this report on the validity of the complaints received as at the date the complaint was received namely 8 March 2011
A Glimpse of Hope
There are three parties involved
  • MJR Inc - non-profit association that obtained and held license for Lion FM. Owns the studio and broadcasting hardware. And holds IP. Has a large membership following opening membership freely and lowering subscription.
  • JBC - Jewish Broadcasting a shell organization, only established for a few weeks, with the objectives of promoting Australian Jewish media both radio and TV. Includes some associated with Lion FM. Two executives are past/present JCCV executives. Two rabbis, one orthodox, one progressive, among the tiny membership.
  • Group responsible for formal complaint to ACMA in March 2011, and formal application to ACMA of June 2011 to take over 96.1 FM for a new station. Comprises people once associated with Lion FM, aggrieved by what they term bullying behaviour by certain MJR executive members in 2010, and failure to admit them as members of MJR in 2010. Membership is 14 or so none of whom is Israeli or hold any JCCV awards for contributions to the Melbourne Jewish community, but they somehow feel they are more entitled to represent a community of 65,000 than the practical idealists who conceived, funded, and established Lion FM, and in running the station gathered some very loyal listeners.
On July 25 2011 a decorous two hour meeting was held between leading members of JBC and MJR which though ultimately inconclusive did offer a glimmer of hope for a resolution.
Were a new constitution ( of MJR, of MJCR, or whatever) to be successfully jointly agreed, there would with the endorsement of JCCV be a direct path towards putting Lion FM back on the air.

YouTube link found on LionFM Facebook page August 4, 2011
   Jewish Radio in Australia   Lion FM is born Just Click
   Lion FM Melbourne: the Now
2011 Lion FM Ceases Radio Broadcasting
As detailed above Lion FM was allocated a temporary license to broadcast at 96.1 Mhz in a special niche of the overcrowded radio spectrum in Melbourne. During the temporary license period complaints were received by ACMA about interference with reception to close frequency FM stations ( 3GDR 95.7 FM, 3GGR at 96.5 FM ) In response Lion FM was required to substantially reduce its broadcasting power. However broadcast reception in the suburbs of major Jewish concentration (known as Melbourne's Borsch, Bagel, and Veldt Belts) remained acceptable on better quality receivers with digital tuning.

Lion FM had been criticised during the first half of 2011 for not being sufficiently embracing of the entire community as is arguably a necessary requirement of community radio stations. It is interesting to note that similar criticism was levelled at the Sydney Muslim radio station, 2MFM during 2010-11. In that case senior Muslim community leaders wrote to ACMA complaining that 2MFM promoted fringe sectarian views. The ACMA took these criticisms on board to impose operating conditions on 2MFM to ensure it did reflect the ethnic diversity in its broadcast area and could no longer be categorized as fringe. This ACMA ruling was announced on May 19, 2011 . Of course with close on 1000 members in its Facebook Group, a significant range of presenters and volunteers it would not be easy to characterise Lion FM station as "fringe". So Lion FM insiders anticipated an extension of the temporary license possibly with special conditions. However, on June 10, ACMA announced that there would be no new spectrum for temporary Community Radio licenses in the Melbourne City area. , meaning that when the initial temporary license for Lion FM expired three days later it would be renewed.

Key phrase on the ACMA announcement was that The Australian Communications and Media Authority has decided not to make additional radio frequency spectrum in the Melbourne City licence area available to temporary community broadcasting licensees.

Listeners and presenters were stunned at the announcement. The was much flaring on the Lion FM Facebook Page. But key figures proclaimed that all was not lost and that the station might yet be revived as a radio broadcasting station. Final night of broadcasting-- Monday June 13 -- the station closed at midnight with the playing of the Hatikvah, whose opening lines are in English Our Hope is not yet lost.

One week after the cessation of FM broadcasting, station manager Gil Barazny sent this email to "Volunteers, Members and Listeners" on the station's mailing list which included the following:

Ceasing the broadcasting caused a lot of unhappiness within the community. We knew that people loved the station, but only after stopping the broadcast we realised how much. We received countless phone calls, emails and Facebook posts from people who felt angry, sad and upset about what had happened. The reactions came from all sections of the community - Israelis, Australians, Orthodox, "Masorti" and secular. We even got responses from people who said that they are not Jewish but they love the station.
Ending the broadcasting now happened at a time when the station was active, vibrant and creative. The grid was filling with shows, more shows were under development and the place was full with volunteers. In the station we saw a real "Kibutz Galuyot" and unity of our community. People working together on shows - secular with religious, young with old together. The station became part of the Jewish life in Melbourne and we had live broadcasts from different events such as Chanukah, Purim, Yom Ha'atzmaut and Yom Hazikaron

Its intriguing to note that the Lion FM Facebook immediately after transmission ceased June 2011 had just under 1000 members -- greatly in excess of the like pages of any comparable Melbourne Community Radio Station. The station continues as an Internet broadcasting Station at . The hope is that the station will be able to resume broadcasting under some differenct arrangement in the radio spectrum in the near future. Subsequent to the cessation of broadcasting ACMA published this report on the validity of the complaints received as at the date the complaint was received namely 8 March 2011.
This web page is part of the story of Jewish Radio through the Diaspora within the context of The History of Now, a website devoted to Contemporary Jewish History.
Sleeping Lion
The Sleeping Lion FM will awaken SOON

as was announced by vice-president of MJR, Menachem Khoen, at the Annual General Meeting of MJR [Melbourne Jewish Radio Inc] held on Thursday 15 September 2011.
Roaring Lion
The Roar never stopped for The World and Us but this program, and others including the popular Mornings with Lion and the relationships program Luv Shack will shortly be ON AIR

Internal Changes to MJR
  • Constitutional Changes
  • Inclusive character asserted
  • Simplified Membership - no nominator seconder required
  • Smaller executive
Status of MJR INC The number of those who have paid for Melbourne Jewish Radio Inc membership now exceeds 260. In advance of the constitutional changes, many would-be members submitted the simplified membership application. Such potential members were not eligible to vote at the AGM of Sept 15, 2011 prior to the passing of the constitutional changes. Of course subsequent to the AGM, paying the subscription leads directly to membership.

Reorganization of Lion FM
  • Lion FM to have partner
  • Agreement signed with partner
  • Lion FM to broadcast weekdays
  • Partner to broadcast weekends only
  • Lion FM to stop broadcasting at noon on Fridays
  • then partner.
Launch of H2A2 rocket
Australia's first and only national scientific satellite, FEDSAT, was launched from Tanegashima Island, Japan, on 14/12/2002.

FEDSAT ceased broadcasting May 2007.

Australia's first and only Jewish Radio Station, Lion FM, was launched June 2010, broadcasting from atop a 52 storey building in Melbourne Central.

Lion FM ceased broadcasting on a Temporary Community Broadcast License in June 2011.
The Partnership Details
A rumour that first occurred a few months is that the owners of Surf FM are in talks with MJR (the license-holder of Lion FM) to create a timeshared station on 1674 AM, which is actually owned by Surf FM. The scheme envisaged was as follows: The station will have each week 120 hours of Lion FM content, while 48 hours will be Surf FM content during the weekend.
Clearly to finalise the deal there will be the necessary negotiation to change license details for 1674 AM with ACMA, and to determine the station branding. The 5 + 2 formula takes care of the Jewish sabbath, when The Lion does not wish to broadcast -- but clearly there will need to be special arrangements for broadcasting on the various Jewish festivals.
Rumour is that the new Lion AM (or whatever) will commence broadcasting in November.
Surf FM currently runs two low power FM stations in Melbourne's southern suburbs, one in Frankston and one in Cranborne. The future of these stations is uncertain. It is noted that Surf FM has recently sold its 1665 AM licence (frequency allocation rights) to Vision Radio for a repeater station.
For completeness another rumour has been circulating that the announced joint operation would be with 3MTR -- Melbourne Talk Radio -- but in this case it is hard to envisage a weekend only 3MTR
Broadcasting of sorts resumes December 2011
On December 20th 2011 Lion FM commenced test broadcasting on 1674 AM, with intention of resuming regular broadcasting within a few days.

Click to hear test transmision on YouTube.

Being AM the sound quality is markedly inferior, but range over Melbourne is significantly better than it was for the last months of broadcasting at 96.1 FM (when broadcasting wattage was reduced at AMA's insistence.) However, the AM broadcasting frequency of 1674 khz, is outside the range available on most domestic and car radio receivers.
The station manager, Gill Barazani, stated in a circulated Email:
The 1674 frequency is the first stage of our return! We are currently exploring various options for getting back on air on an FM Frequency; we will keep you updated.

The high end aka off-band of the AM frequency band in Melbourne holds these stations.
  • 1611 kHz Vision FM – Christian Radio
  • 1620 kHz GB Radio – Relaying Radio Jackie from South West London – Eastern Suburbs
  • 1638 kHz 3ME – Arabic-Language Radio
  • 1655 khZ Repeater Station for Vision FM freq formerly owned by Surf FM
  • 1674 khz Lion FM
The end of the dial - reception limit - for most radio receivers is
  • 1503 kHz 3KND – South Eastern Indigenous Media Association OR
  • 1593 kHz Rete Italia – Italian-Language Radio – with Il Globo Newspaper

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