Radio 100

Who Listens to the Radio? An NFSA podcast

Marking the centenary of radio in Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive presents Who Listens to the Radio?, a podcast about technology and culture.

Who Listens to the Radio? is part of our Radio 100 celebrations.

About the podcast

From the first radio broadcast, to the birth of the teenager, to the invention of the podcast, Who Listens to the Radio? dives into the rich audio culture that shaped our nation. 

We ask all of the important questions like: did video kill the radio star? Can you speak with the dead through radio waves? And of course, who actually listens to the radio? 

Listen to the Who Listens to the Radio? trailer below, and binge all six episodes from 6 March here – or wherever you get your podcasts.

Marking the centenary of radio in Australia, The National Film and Sound Archive presents 'Who Listens to the Radio?' – a podcast about technology and culture.
 
From the first radio broadcast…

[Sound of music]

To the birth of the teenager…

[Fans screaming]

To the invention of the podcast…

Welcome audio adventurers to the podcast revolution!

'Who Listens to the Radio?' dives into the rich audio culture that shaped our nation. We ask all of the important questions like ‘did video kill the radio star?’

They would just murder it in the best way possible.

‘Can you speak with the dead through radio waves?’

People thought that there was something inherently magical about being able to magically record sounds and voices.

And of course, who, actually, listens to the Radio?

When something happens, when there’s an earthquake or when there’s a fire or when there is a disaster, when there is a celebration, everyone is going to speak to you on the radio because they know that’s where they’ll find the most immediate, up-to-date news. That’s where we will all gather.
 
Find 'Who Listens to the Radio?' at the National Film and Sound Archive website, nfsa.gov.au, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Launching 6 March 2024

Who Listens to the Radio? condenses 100 years of Australian broadcasting into six episodes, unpacking how technology shifts the dial on culture – and how culture underpins all tech.

Transmission Statement appears over a stylised pink and orange image of a set of headphones.
Episode 1

The origin story of radio in Australia: the tech, the key players, and why Australia was considered a ‘vanguard’ of this fresh form. This episode tracks radio’s beginnings as an exciting new piece of tech, how it was thought to be a portal to speak to spirits, and how the first public broadcast came about on 23 November 1923. Featuring Dr Peter Fisk (the grandson of the ‘Godfather of Australian radio’ Sir Ernest Fisk) and NFSA curators Amy Butterfield and Thorsten Kaeding. 

COMING 6 MARCH

Golden Years heading appears over a stylised pink and orange treated image of an early radio
Episode 2

The rise of radio. A look at how rapidly audio culture became a part of Australian life, as a go-to source of news, sport and entertainment. With this came soaps, comedies, game shows and radio personalities. But did video really kill the radio star when television arrived? Featuring NFSA curators Thorsten Kaeding and Chris Arneil, Fulbright scholar Jo Palazuelos-Krukowski, and Bruce Ferrier – the owner of Grace Gibson Productions, the only Golden Age radio company still in operation. 

COMING 6 MARCH

The heading Wired for Sound appears over a stylised pink and orange treated image of an old radio dial
Episode 3

The explosion of youth culture. The arrival of the portable transistor radio meant radio stopped being a piece of household furniture for the family to gather round and listen to. Instead, in the 1950s and '60s, affordable transistors were perfectly timed with Beatlemania, rock’n’roll and the ‘dawn of the teenager’. Featuring NFSA curator Simon Smith, LiSTNR’s Lorna Clarkson and former triple j host Fenella Kernebone. 

COMING 6 MARCH

The heading I Just Called to Say I love You appears over a stylised pink and orange image treatment of a sound mixing board.
Episode 4

The start of talkback radio. It began as a one-way format, but soon audiences were able to call into radio stations and speak live on air with famous names – even if it was technically illegal at first. This episode looks at how talkback connected Australians despite distance, and paved the way for advice shows, shock jocks, ‘Love Song Dedications’ and more. Featuring NFSA curator Simon Smith, icons Wendy Harmer and Dr Sally Cockburn AKA Dr Feelgood, and Bonnie Leigh-Dodds and Tom Hogan from the Finding Richard Mercer podcast. 

COMING 6 MARCH

The heading Voices carry appears over a pink and orange stylised images of a radio speaker
Episode 5

The stunning impact of community radio. These days, almost 5 million Australians reportedly tune in to more than 450 not-for-profit radio services every week, SBS radio has programs in more than 60 languages, and radio offers an affordable platform for people to feel heard. But when did community radio start? And why was it so impactful to First Nations, LGBTQIA+ and underrepresented communities in particular? Featuring columnist and journalist Benjamin Law, alongside NFSA curators Crispian Winsor and Nick Henderson. 

COMING 6 MARCH

The heading What's Old is New Again appears over a stylised pink and orange treated image of an old radio
Episode 6

The survival of radio. While television, the internet and podcasting all heralded the death of radio, she persists, especially in Australia. This episode dives into the impact of the digital age on radio and how it adapted (with some trial and error) and how it will continue to evolve alongside us. Meanwhile, the NFSA will keep looking forward and back, because what’s old is always new again. Featuring NFSA curator Johanna McMahon, oral historian Siobhan McHugh, music industry icon Christopher Gilbey OAM and presenter and SXSW Sydney Head of Programming Fenella Kernebone. 

COMING 6 MARCH