DESPITE the Abbott government pulling $35.5 million out of the ABC, things are actually looking up for Warrnambool’s arm of the national broadcaster.
The station’s cramped Koroit Street studios and office will finally be upgraded and expanded, with the ABC taking the opportunity to purchase the building next door.
Breakfast show presenter Jeremy Lee said it had been hoped such an expansion would happen for some time.
“I’ve been here for seven years and it’s been on the cards for all that time,” Lee said. The renovation will improve security, increase studio space, allow more room for guests, create a space for ABC Open workshops, and will finally give staff a decent-sized tea room that’s not squeezed in next to broadcasting equipment.
“It was an opportune moment when the next-door building came up for sale,” ABC Open producer Emily Bissland said.
The renovation also allowed for an upgrade of the station’s broadcasting equipment.
“We were the only regional station that didn’t have the most recent broadcast equipment,” Bissland said.
As for those budget cuts, Bissland said her and Lee hadn’t “had any indication that our jobs are at risk”.
Lee agreed, saying the renovation was a good sign.
“I would guess, and hope, that it’s now highly unlikely that they’ll pull money out of here,” he said.
The renovations are the first major at the station since it opened in its current location in 1995.
One temporary side effect of the renovations is that Lee is broadcasting his weekday breakfast show from a makeshift studio set up near the station’s front window — which means extra street noise.
“I didn’t realise how loud the street sweeper was,” he laughed.