LES Matkovich of Warragul may be retired, but he still has a full-time job.
This article was first published in the 12 September 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Presently serving as the organisation’s vice president, Les has been a key member of local community radio station 103.1 3BBR FM since its inception in September 1993.
In the 21 years since, Les has played an important role in the volunteer-run station. But his level and breadth of involvement came as a surprise even to him.
“I was involved because the initial co-founders were… from the Uniting Church, and I was a member of the Uniting Church. I was asked whether I would like to serve as treasurer for a small Christian radio station and I thought ‘oh well, no big deal it’s not a big onerous thing,'” he told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“Then the scope of the radio station was expanded and it became a community station, and I found myself dragged into other things, like being put before a microphone.”
In addition to hosting duties, Les is responsible for repair works and has been heavily involved with the Drouin-based station’s management since the beginning.
It has become a full-time job.
“I do small handy man stuff,… I can do minor technical adjustments but I coordinate when something higher order needs to be done,” he said.
“I’m very very heavily involved in the day-to-day management of the station, and I sell most of the sponsorships.
“It is a full-time job. It’s not always seven days a week, but I’m here just about every day or, if I’m not here, I’m out selling sponsorship… or working from home.”
“I’ve been nearly continuously on the committee and I’ve fulfilled all except one role on the committee, secretary, and Lynn Wells does a fantastic job of that.”
But despite all the work and unexpected roles, Les has enjoyed his time at 3BBR.
“Yes, once I got used to what I was doing,” he said.
“At times I say ‘well, what am I doing here, it’s getting a bit hard,’ but I feel satisfied.
“I like being busy and I like challenges. I wouldn’t want to be sitting at home twiddling my thumbs.”
The social side of his time at the station has been important to Les, especially since retiring a decade ago.
“It’s been great, but the social side is one side of it. I found having social contact is very important when you retire, but not only that, when you go down the street and… people come up and say how much they enjoy the station… from that point of view you feel that you are doing something worthwhile,” he said.
Les has seen the station evolve over the years, from when it first went to air one day a week in May 1995 as an aspirant station, to when it started broadcasting online at the start of this year.
“You start off from nothing. You have to get people trained… and you have to get equipment,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing the growth. Getting our permanant license in 2003 was a great thrill, to see that we got this far.”
The learning curve was great for Les too.
“Most of us had come in without any knowledge of radio.”
“I didn’t know what FM radio was, I used to listen to AM radio! At that stage there was no FM station here.”
“Whenever we go away we visit other stations, attend conferences, and most… community stations have the same problems and goals.
As for his life outside of 3BBR?
“Well, I’ve got a house to maintain, or visiting friends, that’s basically it,” he said.
“There are cetrain things that are sacricant, like when I go and visit my daughter and grandson in Melbourne.
“I would probably enjoy Probus and perhaps Men’s Shed, if I had the time.”
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