A man stands behind a radio station mixing desk and monitor smiling. He stands in front of a banner that says "106.7FM Love Music Love PBS".

Interview with a Curator

Interview with Radio 100 Curator Crispian Winsor

The NFSA's Crispian Winsor speaks to the power of community radio in giving people a platform, unearthing incredible indie music, as a training ground for future radio stars, and more. 

This feature is part of the NFSA's Radio 100 celebrations.


What does radio mean to you?

Radio has always been one of my favourite mediums. Growing up in Melbourne, I used to listen to 3KZ with my family a lot, and I remember getting my name read out on a request show when I was three or four years old requesting ‘It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me’ by Billy Joel, which was super exciting! This moment led to me taping music off Take 40 Australia in the '80s and religiously listening to Martin/Molloy in the '90s before discovering community radio. I've been an announcer on the Melbourne community radio station PBS FM since 2008, which cemented my love of radio and its importance, not just to myself but to the community that the station reaches out to.


Throughout the All the Voices period (1970s to the present), we saw a better representation of the full spectrum of Australian voices. What are some of the most important developments in radio during that period?

Community radio was the only vehicle that provided an opportunity for diverse voices to appear on the airwaves. Before this period, it was very rare for minorities to control their contributions. They now had the opportunity to present their stories for the first time. For example, the Radio Redfern program was vital to the First Nations community. The most prominent example of this was the program's role on Radio Skid Row (2RSR) in the bicentennial protests on 26 January 1988, as it was an important source of information for the protest marches occurring in Sydney.

Regarding queer radio, an early proponent was the program Gaywaves which was broadcast on 2SER in Sydney. It began broadcasting in 1979 at a time when the mainstream media did not report about LGBTQIA+ people or issues in a very positive fashion. Those who spoke non-English languages were another group that benefited greatly from community radio. Starting with the stations 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne (both of which later became SBS radio), these stations gave many people the opportunity for greater communication, something which had been largely absent until the late 1970s.

Excerpt from 25 Years of SBS Radio, 2000. NFSA title: 554063

What have been some items in the All the Voices collection that personally resonated with you?

As an announcer on community radio who is also a music lover, one of the two items that resonated most with me was the interview with Dr Moss Cass on Triple R’s 30 Years in 30 Days series in 2006. Dr Cass was a member of the Whitlam Government who had a significant role in granting educational community radio licences. The initial stages of granting these licences began to be implemented just before the dismissal of that government in November 1975. One of the licences granted was for 3RMT at RMIT University in Melbourne (which later became Triple R), arguably Australia's biggest community radio station.

Excerpt from Triple R FM: 30 Years in 30 Days, 2006. Courtesy: Triple R FM. NFSA title: 735149

I also love the excerpt from the documentary series Pop Movie from 1986. Although she doesn’t feature in this excerpt, the series is hosted by a young Jane Turner of Kath and Kim fame. The excerpt features Midnight Oil vocalist Peter Garrett at the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal Inquiry in 1983, pleading his case for more Australian music to be played on mainstream radio.


In what ways has community radio also helped music artists?

In the excerpt from Pop Movie, there is also an interview with Stephen Walker, the then-music programmer at Triple R. He talks about the station's attitude of focusing on non-commercial, independent artists that weren't getting played on commercial radio. To this day, community radio stations are the only place where artists of all genres get an airing. In many instances, there are bands that first got played on community radio and later became successful in mainstream music. As a result, community radio's influence on independent music has been invaluable.

Excerpt from Pop Movie Episode 3: Radio, 1986. NFSA title: 285133

What are three things about community radio that people should know?

First, community radio stations rely on members to keep the station running. They generally get very little government funding and, in some cases, none at all.

Second, they provide an alternative to commercial radio. This may have many facets. Whether it is the music they play or the marginalised communities they serve, community radio provides a service that commercial radio is not prepared to facilitate.

Finally, in many cases, it can be a training ground for careers in commercial radio, public radio and television. Some examples are Greig Pickhaver (HG Nelson), Kate Langbroek and Sam Pang, who got their start on Triple R in Melbourne and Richard Kingsmill, Helen Razer and Julie McCrossin, who got their start on 2SER in Sydney.


How did the technological shifts in radio in the 1970s and '80s hint at what was to come?

The timing of FM broadcasting being reintroduced in 1974 (following a few aborted attempts since 1947) and the first community education licences being granted in 1976 were certainly fortuitous for community radio. Although 3CR in Melbourne is an example of a station being broadcast on AM, the superior sound quality of FM certainly helped community radio stations, especially those that focused on music. The '70s also saw a greater focus on listening to alternative music as well as alternative politics that commercial stations stayed away from. These shifts laid the foundations for community radio stations to grow their membership bases right through to today.

Women on the Line, 3CR Melbourne. Excerpt from episode 1, 1986. NFSA title: 261657

What have you enjoyed most about working on Radio 100?

It's been great to discover gems in the collection. Being so vast, it's hard to know what the NFSA collection sometimes contains, but having the chance to do a deep dive into what great radio items exist here was a wonderful opportunity. It was also great to work with a team of people who are so passionate and dedicated to the collection. The chance to work together and shape what we have into this great exhibition was so much fun, and I feel lucky to be involved.


Return to Radio 100 Chapter 4


Main image: NFSA curator Crispian Winsor.