BENDIGO has lost one of its doyens of the airwaves with the departure of blind football and music presenter Geoff Morris.
He is joined by country music presenter Floreena Forbes and up to a dozen other volunteer presenters who have quit community radio Fresh 895 FM following reported difficulties with management.
The shock departures have created a fresh storm for the station, which did not have its permanent licence renewed in November.
Station managers deny there's an issue and say new programming is part of a necessary business plan.
Bluegrass fans expecting to hear Mr Morris tonight in his regular 7pm slot will instead have to tune to his Friday webcast on worldwidebluegrass.com
Mr Morris said the station received more than 40 phone calls last week and dozens of emails after the resignations were announced.
"It's with great reluctance and a great deal of sadness we came to this decision," he said.
"We really felt we had no other option, other than stay on in a framework that had become unworkable."
Local football fans will also feel his departure with the end of his 14-year stint hosting the Bendigo Football League panel on Saturdays.
Mr Morris, who has been blind from birth, is a passionate football fan and said he added his own dimension to Fresh FM's BFL coverage, including a regular place in the commentary box.
He said developing this idea and hard work from the commentary team had meant the stations football coverage was "second to none".
"Leaving it is a big chunk out of my life," he said.
Problems at Fresh FM had been building for some time, Mr Morris said, including the station's failure last November to renew its licence.
But the "last straw" was last month's annual general meeting, he said, which was adjourned until April 11 until a financial report could be submitted, following accountants Best Jackel asking for extra financial information to finish their audit.
"We should never, ever have been put in this situation," Mr Morris said.
"You may not pay your bills or clean your carpets, but you should never, ever risk losing your licence.
"It wasn't lost for us by someone else, we lost it ourselves and that says something about the way things are run."
Country Music presenter Floreena Forbes said one of Fresh FM's strengths was its ability to cater for a diversity of tastes.
"The station is turning away from the local community," she said.
The increasing use of pre-recorded programming from Brisbane station 98.9FM was also eroding local content, overlooking the local music scene and disappointing Bendigo listeners.
But Fresh FM board member Jock Clark said the changes were part of the way forward for the station.
"There is always someone that doesn't want change," he said.
"There were tough programming decisions that had to be made - and I know it will be a heartache to some people - but support for the management has been overwhelming.
"With community radio station you are always going to have some angst, but if you are not providing a product people will listen to, then you can't pay the bills."
Mr Clark said the delay in presenting financial statement was the result of a need to have assets valued to the auditors' requirements and the station had 28 days to complete the work.
"But since the licence episode, what we have seen is overwhelming support from the public, from business, from community groups, the council and more than 15,000 signatures in support."