23 November 2023

Security blocks ex-presenter as new board named at fiery Griffith community radio AGM

| Oliver Jacques
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Man standing to speak with security guard inset

Veteran presenter John Bortolazzo says there is light at the end of the tunnel. Inset – security shuts the door on Lance Perry. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Two security guards stood at the front door and blocked an ex-member from entering.

An ex-president made allegations of financial irregularity and was told to “get a life”.

An attendee stormed out, slamming the door behind her while a teary ex-presenter alleged Italians had been expelled from the station.

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A presenter said he’d been made to feel like a “bloody idiot” in a “toxic workplace”, while another was aggressively berated for texting on her phone while the current president was speaking.

Griffith community radio station 2MIA’s annual general meeting (AGM) was filled with drama but reached a positive conclusion on Wednesday night (22 November).

The station, which has been broadcasting in Griffith since 1993, has suffered a high level of staff turnover in recent months. Accusations of why this has occurred have been flying back and forth on social media since that time.

Two security guards were employed to vet attendees and keep things under control at the AGM.

The guards prevented former presenter Lance Perry from entering the premises, informing him he’d been banned from the station.

2MIA said this was because he’d kept coming to the station unannounced even though he wasn’t a presenter or a member anymore.

As Mr Perry milled around the carpark, the meeting began with the announcement that 2MIA secretary Lynda Lane was stepping down from the management board after seven years of service.

“I have mostly held a dual role of secretary and treasurer combined,” she said. “As of this AGM, the roles will be now separated and undertaken by two fresh faces – whom I hope to leave a strong administrative legacy for continued great work to happen.”

A new management board was announced by presenter Sam Catanzariti – with AGM chair Jay Reynolds named the new president, Narelle Mills vice president, David Hammond the treasurer and Melissa Pisan the secretary.

Man standing in front of two seated

Sam Catanzariti names the new board in front of outgoing secretary Lynda Lane and new president Jay Reynolds. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Mr Reynolds said this was the opportunity for a new beginning, but bad blood from the previous regime spilled over into the AGM.

Former president Kim Callaghan accused the outgoing secretary of having full control of the finances, despite the requirement for all purchase decisions to be signed off by two people.

“You were in charge of all the money on your own,” she said.

“Get a life,” Ms Lane replied.

Ms Lane told Region this allegation was completely untrue and it was not physically possible to sign off on financials alone.

Soon after this clash, veteran presenter John Bortolazzo pushed himself to his feet on his crutch.

“The station has been the most toxic workplace this last year,” he said.

“I have a list of 14 members who have been fired or have left … I have been made to feel like a bloody idiot.”

Former presenter Gloria Tappi held back tears as she expressed similar sentiments.

“I never expected to be thrown out the way I was,” she said, adding that the same fate had befallen other Italian presenters.

While she was speaking, an attendee stormed out of the meeting, slamming the door behind her.

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Mr Reynolds responded to both Mr Bortolazzo and Ms Tappi by telling them the station’s constitution was paused to look at how disciplinary action had been administered.

“Everything is now up for consideration,” he said.

Mr Bortalozzo said he could now see “a great big light at the end of the tunnel”.

Another former station president, Maurice Pfitzner, added some historical context to the present-day disputes.

“When I was running the station, our biggest issue was trying to stop the presenters from killing each other,” he said.

Actress and presenter Romina Tappi, who earlier found herself at the end of a tongue lashing from an attendee who disapproved of her texting on her phone, said she wanted to make the station a fun place to work again.

This sentiment was met with widespread agreement, with the AGM ending on a positive note with a number of people saying they wanted to put the past behind them and move forward.

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