Playing it Loud!
Community radio in Australia makes a vital contribution to the development of the Australian music industry. Many stations surpass the 25% Australian music quota set out in the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice. To give just a few examples, FBi Radio plays 50% Australian music, with half of that from Sydney, where the station is based.
Brisbane’s 4ZzZ is renowned for supporting local music and artists, with presenters required to meet its quota, and Melbourne’s 3CR favours a minimum of 55% Australian content in its music programming. Not only do many stations exceed Australian music quotas, they also remain dedicated to supporting new Australian talent through programs on air and initiatives off air.
Community radio and the Australian music scene have developed hand in hand since the ‘70s with stations all around the country playing and supporting local music whether that’s in the capital cities or small regional areas.
Blu FM in the Blue Mountains organise several initiatives to support local music, including a song writing challenge and battle of the bands. Acts that perform in the Battle of the Bands get exposure on Blu FM throughout the competition.
The annual Blue Mountains Singer-Songwriter Challenge provides a platform for emerging musicians to perform in front of their peers as well as alongside more seasoned performers. “It’s an excellent opportunity for them to showcase their talent,” says Blu FM President Ken Quinnell.
Home Brew Radio, aired on Triple H 100.1 FM in Hornsby and networked via the Community Radio Network (CRN), plays 100% Australian music, 100% of the time. Its regular live segment, ‘The Brewing Room’, features a mix of both established and emerging artists.
“Our commitment to breaking artists is to provide another avenue for airplay other than commercial radio,” says Producer Phil 'Brommers' Bromley.
Melbourne stations have long held a solid reputation for supporting Australian artists across a broad range of genres including 3MBS with new classical compositions, 3RRR, 3CR, 3PBS and youth broadcaster SYN FM. Since it began broadcasting, 3PBS has featured local live music as part of ‘The Easey Street Sessions’ program. “We’ve had thousands of bands come through the station over the last 32 years,” says 3PBS FM Music and Interviews Coordinator, Chelsea Wilson.
Of course, there’s strong support for Australian music all throughout Australia. “We love local music!” says Music Director of Perth’s RTR FM, Adam Trainer. “Between a quarter and a half of all of our musical content across the station is from local artists.
“RTR airplay is often the very first exposure that a lot of local artists receive. Many acts go on to bigger and better things, but we often find that they still have a fond place in their heart for the station that helped get their music out there long before anyone else cared.”
4MBS in Brisbane and 3RRR in Melbourne have both built live performance areas that are regularly used for music broadcasts and performances, as well as arts events. Radio Adelaide developed a Live Music Festival as a way of celebrating the diversity of live music performance. It features artists live in the studio for every single radio program across a full week of broadcasting as well as live crosses to gigs at Adelaide’s favourite live music venues.
Another vital contributor is the CAAMA Radio network, which broadcasts Aboriginal radio to remote and regional Australia. Its focus is on Central Australia, where the station is situated.
“CAAMA gives a voice to those who don’t have one,” says Station Manager, Gerry ‘G-Man’ Lyons.
This voice is not to be underestimated, either, as it reaches an audience greater than one third of the country. Perhaps CAAMA’s most unique commitment to local music is the many classes run by the station that help foster the careers of local artists. These regular workshops include tips on how to prepare for radio interviews, how to promote your music and how to develop an online presence.
Above: Downhills Home perform at 3PBS 'The Easey Street Sessions'. Photo: Bill Bates