3RPP still puts a smile on our dial

The atmosphere is buzzing at 3RPP as announcers spread their enthusiasm from the studio's Mornington headquarters to avid listeners in Frankston and across the peninsula.

Breakfast presenter Peter Smedley has just come off air and in the chair for the next shift are husband and wife duo Judy (Banks) Phillips and Bob Phillips.

For 27 years, Radio Port Phillip has been entertaining listeners and its popularity and depth of coverage is growing, despite television and the internet.

Live broadcasts from local football and cricket matches and special events, such as the Mornington Cup last month, have bolstered the station's profile and widened its audience.

Bob and Judy have been doing their radio show in various forms since 1988 and it's easy to see why they are regarded as two of the station's legends.

Judy got her break on television co-hosting Fredd Bear's Breakfast A-Go-Go in the 1960s.

The children's morning show was one of the first to be broadcast live in Australia.

Bob produced the show and went on to produce Hey Hey It's Saturday.

The couple, who've been married 35 years, provide amusing banter on the 3RPP soundwaves every week with their show Sugar and Spice. "I'm the sugar," Bob jokes.

Knowing each other's limits and being able to read each other gives them an advantage.

"We can get away with a lot more because we can push each other right to the edge and we know where to draw the line," Bob says.

Although the couple never read from a script and enjoy ad-libbing, their professionalism never wavers.

Judy says the difficulty is making it visual for the listeners. "They can't see what's going on, so you have to describe it. If Bob's wearing a hat I have to say, 'why are you wearing that silly-looking hat'."

But they admit sometimes they don't match the image listeners have conjured up.

"I was stopped in the street once and said, 'this is my husband Bob', and it took a moment for the woman to work out this was the man she had been listening to on the radio," Judy says.

"Her face visibly dropped," Bob adds. "You could tell she was a little disappointed."

They love the freedom of working in community radio and the opportunities it presents.

And, as with any live broadcasting, there is always something on standby in case it all goes pear-shaped.

"Once we had lined up an interview with an actor for the stage production of Yes Minister and we were put through to the wrong hotel room and ended up with a Chinese doctor on the line," Bob recalls. "That's the thing about live radio — lots can go wrong."

But the potential for disaster has been minimised since the station relocated in late 2011 from the "tin shed" in Moorooduc to a modern studio in Mornington.

The station broadcasts primarily to the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston, but signals have been picked up as far away as the Bellarine Peninsula and Phillip Island.

Peter Smedley, who hosts The Breakfast Scoop every Thursday says his love of music primarily led him to radio — "I walked into the station and said, 'how do I get a radio program?"'

Eventually, he was given the Sunday afternoon Shake it, you won't break it program, now hosted by his nephew 'Brother Paul' Satur.

Although Peter took media studies at university, he ended up working in the family business and only rediscovered his passion for radio later in life.

"Sometimes I still get nervous," he admits. "When you interview people live in the studio it can be pretty nerve-racking." Another reason for getting into radio was to improve his public speaking ability.

"I really disappointed myself when I got up to speak at a friend's wedding and I cried. I wanted to learn how to keep my emotions in check and still do a good job."

His passion for music, and in particular for sharing some of the bands out there who struggle for air time, shines through.

"You have to enjoy people and want to share music. Community radio is a medium for the independent, non-commercial voices.

"I'd love to see a wall of aspiring musicians broadcasting at the station. It can be anything you like — just not the norm."

Tuning into 98.3 (98.7 for the peninsula), it's refreshing to hear the diverse range of voices and music on 3RPP.

All radio announcers are volunteers, and it's clear it's a labour of love. Members' fees, grants and scholarships keep the station afloat and new members are always welcome.

Station manager Brendon Telfer says they had tapped into a lode of hidden talent and listeners are benefiting.

"We play everything from blues to classical and even have local singers and actors from time to time.

"We want listeners to switch on and give us a try. If they listen in, they are bound to find something they like throughout the day."

Media students and peninsula residents Brittany Fry, 20, and Ellen Bruin, 23, are the next generation of radio presenters.

Ellen, who is keen to learn the ropes of radio production and turn it into a career, started at 3RPP three months ago.

"I read the news headlines and produce the drive show on Wednesdays," she says.

Her role includes interviewing and briefing talent, choosing music and doing on-air film reviews.

"Everyone here is lovely and it's a really good community of people."

Brittany is yet to make her on-air debut but is keen to gain broadcasting experience.

"I'm not sure what part of the media I'd like to end up in yet, so I really want to try everything and see what I enjoy most."

Judy would love to see more young people getting involved in the station. "As long as they're not better than us. We are fairly possessive of our time slot."

To find out more about 3RPP programs go to rppfm.com.au.

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