100 years in 100 days

Radio 100

Since it burst onto Australian airwaves a century ago, radio has shaped our cultural identity and been the soundtrack to our lives. Explore how with Radio 100, told in five chapters over 100 days.

Just launched: All the Voices (1970s to now)

Image with thanks to 3UZ Pty Ltd. Badge courtesy Australian Queer Archives

There’s something about audio

The Radio 100 podcast

NFSA Radio 100 Podcast logo. A pink and orange graphic with the words 'Who Listens to the Radio?' on it Launching 6 March

Launching on 6 March, Who Listens to the Radio? is a six-part podcast about technology and culture. Listen to the trailer now. The full podcast will be available on the NFSA website, or wherever you get your podcasts.

We asked people in radio and music, as well as everyday Australians, to look back at how radio has impacted their lives and what it means to them. Here’s what they said.

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Radios through the ages

These days radio travels with us – in cars, on our mobile, through headphones – but this wasn’t always the case. See if you recognise any of the radio equipment in the NFSA’s collection and discover the cutting-edge technology of the time.

Portable radio received with fold out speakers on the side and a carry handle on top
1962: PYE Blackbox transistor stereophone
A radio received in a black box with round speaker and dials on the front.  It has a carry handle on the top.
1930: Airzone portable radio receiver
Radio receiver in white plastic casing with dials and display on the front
1950: The Astor 'Mickey Mantle' radio
A portable Sony brand radio receiver.
1965: Sony TR-823 transistor radio
A JVC branded 'boom box' portable tape player and radio with a large carry handle.
1987: JVC component system PVC-V55
A pink Sony branded digital mp3 music player.
2007: The Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F
Close up of some radio and sound equipment from the early-mid 1920s
'Radio has been the soundtrack to my life, from Mum listening to Macca on local ABC in the 80s, to taping songs off triple j in high school. Now my husband texts the breakfast show of our community radio station and my daughter and I listen out with glee for his song requests.'
Clare Fletcher, Author
'I often think about a story from the SBS Greek team. At a street festival one day a listener was chatting to the presenting team before a live broadcast. She said she had to leave to go home to listen to the show. She knew she could stay and see it live, but 4pm to her meant sitting on her sofa with a tea and the radio on. Audio is enmeshed in our lives. Radio and podcasts fit into our routines, but there’s also something incredibly special about the connection they can create.'
Caroline Gates SBS Manager of Podcasts and Digital Audio
'As a teenager, I fell for radio, staying up late to tune into triple j. Over the years, hosting ABC radio has made me feel like Australia is a rich tapestry woven with incredible conversations, characters and stories that we're all fortunate enough to immerse ourselves in. Live broadcasts can hold you in the moment. Radio has bound us together in times of emergency. Crafting audio documentaries across the globe has revealed to me the profound, understated power of a microphone to capture people at their most honest. If you want to witness someone's humanity? Listen to them.'
Marc Fennell Journalist, radio and television personality
'To me, radio, podcasts and audio culture in Australia means so much: it’s the thing you put in your ears to tune out the world or feel more connected to it. It’s road trips flicking through stations to find the right song or the local weather report. It’s listening to my footy team winning a match as a kid. It’s a podcast shared best with friends or that makes you feel like the hosts are your best friends. It’s a shower while listening to the morning news. It’s my first boombox, Walkman, iPod and phone. It’s pressing play and record at the same time to tape a song during the top 40 countdown in the 90s. It’s music and joy and my career. It’s stories through sound; in episodes, instances, songs or industry. It’s community, education and entertainment. It’s the past, present and future.'
Stephanie Van Schilt Producer at LISTNR
'I really came of age when the intimate relationships audiences had with radio evolved to become even more direct through podcasting. The evolution from broadcasting to narrowcasting, it became about finding the specific things you cared about and allowing the like-minded people that share that passion to live in your ears.'
Alexei Toliopoulos Film critic, host of Finding Drago podcast
'Training as a journalist, I thought I’d write features or perhaps do TV. But I found radio, and it’s become my enduring career love affair. For me, radio is the adrenaline thrill of being live with an open mic; its greatest joy is the one-to-one connection you make with each listener, and the theatre of-the-mind you create together. There’s nothing else like radio.'
Andrea Ho AFTRS Head of Radio and Podcasting
'As a volunteer at SYN 90.7 at RMIT, I was lucky enough to get to host my own show. I called it folk ODYSSEY (dramatic, Michelle), and it ran on Sundays at 2pm. It was one of the first projects I worked on where it was just me. If I wasn't ready at 2pm on Sunday, there would be dead air. It was a powerful feeling, getting to talk to people and share something I was passionate about. It ended up being a fortuitous experience, as years later I became a podcast producer and have worked on over 4,000 hours of podcasting on more than 10 shows. My love affair with audio continues today, but it started back in that underground studio on Sunday afternoons, talking at the wall about 60-year-old folk tunes.'
Michelle Melky Producer at Amplify