RTRFM In The Pines Mark Francesca Six Strings Photography

How community broadcasters have found their festival feet - RTRFM

Joshua Cole, 10th May 2023

Organising a live music event is no small task - and when it comes to music festivals, the challenges can seem insurmountable. From securing funding to booking acts and selling tickets, there's a lot that goes into ensuring a festival is both enjoyable and sustainable. 

But despite the high bar to entry, there are some community broadcasters out there who have managed to pull it off. In fact, the CBAA recently caught up with three of them to learn more about the challenges they've faced and how they've navigated them. 

The first festival in this series, RTRFM’s In The Pines, took place for its 30th year on 30 April at UWA's Somerville Auditorium in Crawley WA. Despite its significance to the state and national music scene, RTRFM's General Manager Simon Miraudo said that retaining a detailed history of the festival has been difficult.  

“Because community radio is so much about day-to-day survival, you don’t know when things are going to become legacy events.” 

In fact, when it came time to list the 440+ acts that have performed there over the years, it took a trip to a local art gallery and museum, and a fortunate interview with Bob Gordon, a local journalist who attended the first In The Pines, to help chart the event’s history and build that list of acts. 

That list is a long and impressive one, with In The Pines having featured some of Western Australia’s best-known artists, including Jebediah, Tame Impala, Pond, Methyl Ethel, Stella Donnelly, the John Butler Trio, Kill Devil Hills and Abbe May among others. 

Mr Miraudo laments that more recently there has been a lost generation of WA artists thanks to COVID, with an album cycle and promotional opportunities lost to lockdowns. 

COVID also forced postponements to In The Pines in 2020 and 2022, though didn't interrupt the festival's 30-year streak. Mr Miraudo credited the success of the festival in those years to community enthusiasm that built up during their postponement. 

That community engagement is essential for the festival, not just in ensuring attendance, but also in securing the 80 to 100 volunteers needed to help run the event alongside the station’s 10 staff and Events and Operations Manager Chris Wheeldon, as well as performers who volunteer their time to repay RTRFM’s support for their work.  

Making the connection between performers and community is also a top priority. Mr Miraudo said that the station’s biggest challenge, even more so than organisation, was in ensuring that In The Pines and RTRFM's other events were representative of the diversity of Western Australia's music industry. 

“(Our biggest challenge is) making sure that we're authentically representing the WA music scene so it feels like we're contributing and we're not just interlopers.” 

Considering the number and success of In The Pines alumni, this is a challenge that RTRFM is prepared to face. 

In the next part of this three-part series we speak to Brisbane station 4MBS about the Festival of Classics, another long-running festival that has grown dramatically over the years.

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In this installment of our series on community broadcasters that organise music festivals we spoke to Queensland station 4MBS on their Festival of Classics, now in its 30th year. It has grown massively since its inception, from a single weekend to a format that now spans a month.


RTRFM’s annual ‘In the Pines’ event turned 20 years young in 2013, with a huge line-up collecting some of the best bands to have played the event over the course of the last two decades.


This iconic Perth festival is back on Sunday, 22 April 2015