Busted: SCA debunks mysterious Loop FM station

Former Assistant Editor

The mystery of Toowomba radio station 99.1 Loop FM has been solved.

After Radio Today reported that the station had been taken off the air, SCA’s Darling Downs content director David Burton reached out set the record straight.

For the last few months, the station, dubbed Loop FM according to an eponymous Facebook page, had been spinning ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton and ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins on repeat.

It recently added ‘Mmm mmm mmm mmm’ by Crash Test Dummies to its rotation, and a request line was available to select any of the three.

Burton took the opportunity to some light on the history of the station; “SCA Toowoomba moved into new premises recently and with the move came the decision to terminate the Kids FM service broadcasting on our 99.1FM LPON.”

“From February this year we’ve been rotating a couple of songs on the frequency until the final decision regarding the new format was made,” he revealed.

As it turns out, SCA had nothing to do with the creation of the Facebook page, which was started by an anonymous fan, who even created a request line.

The frequency is now playing SCA’s DAB+ digital station Buddha Hits.

“So the local station hasn’t gone anywhere, but the format that was never really a format, christened ‘Loop FM’ by a local fan, has been replaced with a permanent, much broader format,” said Burton.

“We thought it was harmless so let everyone have their fun until Wednesday, May 8 when the decision was made to broadcast SCA’s Buddha format on 99.1.”

The fan, who until now remained nameless, posted a tribute to the Facebook page over the weekend, signing off as ‘Mike’.

“We have had a great run, playing the same tracks on repeat for months, inspiring people to live their lives just a little loopy. But corporate pressure always wins and we have been replaced by Buddha Hits.

“Everyone here at LOOP FM would like to thank all our listeners for their loopy spirit and support.

“Hopefully, one day, the people will get what they want – what they deserve – and we can loop again.”

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that 99.1 LOOP FM TOOWOOMBA is no more.
We have had a great run, playing…

Posted by 99.1 Loop FM Toowoomba on Saturday, 11 May 2019

Burton extended his thanks to the fan for generating “more publicity than we could have dreamed of!”

“We’d to thank the mystery fan who started the cult-like online following, as well as the various newspapers and online sources that carried the story.”

“Now we invite Toowoomba listeners to add a little bliss to their lives with 99.1 Buddha FM.”

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Andy Maher
14 May 2019 - 10:17 am

Easiest APRA report ever. Well played DB.

14 May 2019 - 10:40 am

Perhaps you could run a story about Super Radio’s DAB+ stations like FUN and Dance Super Digi.
It’s a 24 hour loop for them. The same song at the same time every single day. It’s been like that for at least 6 months now.
Makes me wonder how they are permitted to keep the licence.

Cee Jay
14 May 2019 - 11:37 am

So SCA have turned their narrowcast station in Toowoomba (99.1) into a relay of Buddha Hits. Now the ACMA says an LPON cannot be operated as a “commercial service” (“penalties of up to $200,000”), but I can’t find any reference to HPON? Or are they saying that a DAB+ station in a regional area is “narrowcast”? Now there’s a can o’ worms. Is it legal?

15 May 2019 - 8:55 am

Damn, thought Loop might have been an option for Bianca & Mike in July.

15 May 2019 - 1:35 pm

Cee Jay, SCA are not necessarily operating a commercial service solely because it’s ordinarily a commercial operator.

The purpose of open narrowcasting can be defined more by what the service isn’t (how it’s a limited service in some way) than what it is.

The ACMA provides a limited range of clarifications that defines what Open Narrowcasting is but those are based on pre-conceived ideas and/or close consultation with major stakeholders such as racing radio services. These clarifications pre-date DAB Digital Radio and haven’t been updated even though they’ve been reviewed.

Otherwise it’s left to statutory interpretation and investigations that determine what is and isn’t open narrowcasting, making it a case-by-case assessment.

In my humble opinion, the receding influence of AM Radio ought to permit any format to be classified open narrowcasting within the 1611 to 1701 kHz range to encourage more of those licences to be activated.

The statutory interpretation pursuant to such a finding would be a new reason for further defining open narrowcasting: that the assigned frequency has little prospect of influencing a mainstream audience.

Cee Jay
15 May 2019 - 6:17 pm

Joey writes “… the receding influence of AM Radio ought to permit any format to be classified open narrowcasting within the 1611 to 1701 kHz range to encourage more of those licences to be activated …” Except, of course, that under pressure from CRA, the government of the day did exactly the opposite. It would appear that CRA members believe that there’s one set of rule for themselves (witness Grant Broadcasters Kix Country) and another for every other would be “narrowcast” player.

16 May 2019 - 3:31 pm

HPON, particularly on AM, should be opened up to more users.

AM signals travel particularly far at night and this would give audiences a broader listening choice, as would opening up more HPON on FM.

If CRA want to diminish the competition from these operators, rather than use corruption, perhaps they should increase the transmitter power? Some regional stations have woefully short transmission ranges that can barely be heard 10km out of town.

AM radio is heavily underutilised in this country, and it should be used more especially by the ABC, to fill in the missing coverage gaps that exist (such as most of the Northern Terrirtory) with high powered AM transmitters (at least 500KW). This would prove invaluable in emergencies.

As for commercial operators using HPON, SEN in SA is a commercial operator using a HPON and for a 600 watt transmitter it has a very impressive reception range into northern regional SA on 1611 (much better than 5AA on 1395)


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