As Recommended By - Compilations in Community Radio

'As Recommended By...' Community Radio Compilations

Chris Yates, 2nd March 2016
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One of the guiding principles of community broadcasting in Australia is to support and develop local arts and music, and community radio is meeting this challenge and excelling. The amount of Australian music on community radio has never been higher, with 2015 figures showing that 39% of music played on community radio is by local artists.

As well as services like Amrap contributing to this success by making is easier and more affordable than ever for artists to get their music to community broadcasters, at the station end, you have extremely dedicated music fans, volunteers and staff making sure that quality Australian music is finding its way to the programmers who will play it and the audiences who love it.

Despite music distribution and promotion platforms exploding everywhere, and there never having been more music to choose from, this doesn’t always equate to a satisfying listening experience.

It’s quickly becoming apparent that even the most complex and tailored algorithms don’t come close to matching a personal recommendation, whether that’s from a friend, a family member or your favourite radio program.

Since the birth of community radio, music directors and program makers have taken immense pride in the work that they do, telling people about the music they love and getting other people excited about it.

I recently chanced upon a 1986 clip on YouTube of Canberra television show Rock Till Dawn, with staff from Canberra’s 2XX station speaking about the compilation album Beyond The Wireless. The video featured a clip of Mumbo Jumbo’s incredible track Wind It Up which appeared on the record - a track I’ve never heard but was immortalised forever thanks to this compilation, waiting for me to discover it almost 30 years later.

 

It got me thinking about some of the amazing community radio compilations that have come out over the years and how they provide an amazing snapshot of the music of the day.

When I was an announcer at 4ZZZ in Brisbane, a team of very dedicated station staff and volunteers launched a monumental compilation to celebrate the first 25 years of the station with a collection of songs that accurately mirrored Brisbane’s growth as a serious player in the international scene of independent music. (I’m) Stranded by The Saints, Karen by The Go-Betweens and Task Force by Razar are still regarded today as tracks that helped shape the trajectory of an international underground music movement. The latter half of the compilation featured the trio of Brisbane bands that were so influential in the 1990s - Custard, Regurgitator and Powderfinger.

Electronic ‘doof’ music was a massive part of 4ZZZ’s on-air sound during the late 90s and early 2000s. Soliciting contributions from electronic music producers of all bents across Brisbane, 4ZZZ created a boxed-set of CDs that existed only in the 4ZZZ studios. The best tracks were then collated for the commercially distributed Gizmo Volumes 1 and 2, which sound groundbreaking to this day.

Triple R in Melbourne has played an important role in shaping the sound of that city, with the success of the station and the city’s rich musical landscape co-existing, dependent on one another. Producing too many great compilations to even mention the best ones, a poignant collection is 1988’s Also Used and Recommended By... .Weddings, Parties, Anything sit alongside The Stems and Triffids as well as the track My Pal by God, a song that has basically defined the Melbourne pub rock sound.

PBS 106.7 FM in Melbourne utilise their Studio 5 live band room to record artists and then compile them onto CDs which are used as prizes for their Radiothon and the like. Recent comps Day Tripper and Night Rider allow them to give a second life to tracks from many of the amazing broadcasts of live bands that the station has produced in recent years, but their compilations began much earlier and represent the very broad range of genres and styles that get a look-in on the famously eclectic station. One Night At The Prince is a vibrant recollection of the station’s St Kilda era before it moved over the bridge, and the 1994 compilation Trash Trance showed the station’s commitment to providing a space for experimental electronic music.

Sydney digital station FBi Click has taken a modern approach the mixtape scenario, launching a series of online compilations featuring the playlists of their New Noise programming on the platform Soundcloud.

Three D Radio in Adelaide release some extremely diverse compilations annually, their Depthcharge series now in its 13th year.

It’s not just the capital cities either, Victoria’s 3MDR Mountain District Radio compile a yearly wrap up series A Mountain Of Sound, featuring a mammoth 52 tracks from artists in the region.

CAAMA have released a series of Snapshot compilations, which they describe as “highlighting outstanding Aboriginal musicians in the Northern Territory”.

There are far too many fantastic compilations to mention them all here, but we would love to hear your recollections about compilations your station or program has been involved in, or ones that have resonated with you as a listener. Please share your comments below.

It's now easier than ever for stations to make compilations. Music Directors from across Australia have hand-picked a selection of tracks from community radio's Australian music catalogue, Amrap's AirIt.

Thanks to Steve Bell and Cameron Durnsford for their assistance compiling this article.

This article first appeared in the November 2015 issue of CBX, Australia’s community broadcasting magazine. 

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