The vinyl frontier: bFM record sale for a good cause
15 August 2023
When the words ‘last resort’ were used by bFM in announcing it was selling off some of its record collection, fans were aghast. But the sale is just one part of the plan.
In an ideal world, bFM would be more sustainable and that's what we're working towards at the moment.
On Saturday 19 August, music lovers in Auckland will get a chance to grab a piece of vinyl or two and know that their purchase will go towards staving off the wolves from Campus Radio bFM.
The station is flogging off 6,000 records from its massive collection in what has been described as a “last resort” for its finances.
“Selling off the vinyl was not an easy decision, but one we recognised was ultimately necessary for the financial stability of the station for future,” says bFM general manager Tom Tremewan.
“It's a significant move to get a bit of a cash injection.”
Over the past few weeks, the records from more than 50 years of broadcasting have been sorted, assessed, valued and readied for sale.
“They’re in various conditions,” says Tom. “Some have been thrashed over the years, some left alone, and it's the ones that don't get played often that we’re selling.
“For those who like what we do, it’s a great way to support us. There’s also an option to ‘adopt a record’ and whenever we play it we’ll give the adopter a shout-out.”
When the news hit mainstream media that the vinyl sell-off was going on, there was angst that bFM might be in trouble, but also a subsequent boost in donations to bFM’s Give a Little page.
Says Tom: “Nobody wants to sell the records. I don't want to sell the records, but we understand that it is something that we need to do to sustain ourselves. It's the big picture.”
Campus bFM Breakfast host Rachel Ashby knows how important the station is not just for its eclectic range of alt and independent music, but as a training ground for journalists, commentators, technicians, advertising creatives and artists.
Rachel began her career at bFM on reception in a typical volunteer role. After various positions, including as host of an arts programme, the BA/BFA Honours graduate was asked to become the station’s morning host in 2019 and is one of 12 paid staff, two contractors and around 170 volunteers.
“In an ideal world, bFM would be more sustainable and that's what we're working towards at the moment,” Rachel says. “Supporting the station is important because if we lose something like this, there's no way to replicate it.”
As well as the vinyl sale and Give a Little, there’s the world-famous in Auckland, bCard.
“It’s a sort of Patreon subscription service where people pay $4.20 or $9.50 a month – or $100 – depending on financial circumstances. It’s a way of saying ‘I support this station and I want to just keep it ticking over'.
“Honestly it makes a massive difference for us to get that type of support. It really does.”
Nobody wants to sell the records. I don't want to sell the records, but we understand that it is something that we need to do to sustain ourselves.
Holders of bCards get early access to gigs and events, as well as discounts at various retail stores.
Campus bFM is owned by the AUSA Media Trust, which is owned by the Auckland University Students Association. As well as support from AUSA, bFM gets some funding from NZ On Air.
Part of the station’s mandate is to be financially sustainable and Tom says the vinyl sale is just one way towards that. He has a figure in mind that they’d like to make from the sale, but will just have to see how it goes on the day.
“This is a three-pronged strategy to being financially sustainable," says Tom. "We have a bunch of plans and schemes on the horizon, that also include alumni, and the whole community of bFM.”
“It's a tricky time in the world to be doing independent media,” says Rachel, “and to be valuing the arts. But that doesn't mean we shouldn’t.”
VINYL FOR A CAUSE
95bFM Record Fair
Saturday 19 August
10am – 4pm
At 95bFM, City Campus, above the quad
bFM Give a Little page