Preserving Gaywaves and LGBTQIA+ Radio

Preserving Gaywaves and saving LGBTQIA+ radio

Making diverse radio accessible
 Chris Arneil

Radio Archivist Chris Arneil looks at the outcomes of our Gaywaves LGBTQIA+ radio preservation program.


diverse radio collections digitised

Through the generosity of a bequest from the estate of Dietmar Hollman, and in accordance with his wishes to preserve Australian radio, we’ve reached the end of the Gaywaves project, with 25 days’ worth of content digitised.

This includes more than 250 hours of Gaywaves (Sydney’s first regularly broadcast gay and lesbian radio program) held on compact cassette and VHS tapes, alongside other LGBTQIA+-related content from the NFSA collection including programs heard across Melbourne’s 3CR, 3RRR and 3KND Kool ‘N’ Deadly, Sydney’s 2SER and Radio Skid Row, Armidale’s 2ARM, Queensland’s 4BC and Radio Adelaide in South Australia.

The digitisation of these collections (which were held on magnetic tapes at high risk of deterioration) ensures that the important history of diverse and marginalised voices on Australian airwaves remains accessible into the future.


Collecting contemporary LGBTQIA+ radio

As part of this project, we also acquired other contemporary LGBTQIA+-related radio recordings from around Australia, including:

  • current affairs, news and entertainment programs from LGBTQIA+ community radio station JOY94.9 Melbourne
  • Better Together – 3AW and JOY FM’s award-winning joint broadcast with Neil Mitchell;
  • 4ZZZ, Brisbane’s Queer Radio program
  • 3MDR’s broadcast of the inaugural Australian Rules Football Pride Cup
  • 2SER’s broadcast of the Bingham Cup
  • the archives of 3CR’s Queering the Air and Out of the Pan programs.

We also acquired retrospective recordings including test broadcasts from aspirant Sydney LGBTQIA+ community station Out-FM as well as additional Gaywaves recordings and documentation.

To mark the end of the Gaywaves preservation project, we’ve published the recording of a panel session we held during the 2015 SpringOUT festival.

Our panel members were Prue Borthwick and Greg Reading (2SER’S Gaywaves presenters); Peter Hewiston (past 2XX’s Gaywavelength presenter); Nicola Hearn, Nida Mollison and Daria Sigma (2XX’s current Friday Night Lip Service presenters) and myself:

Preserving Gaywaves – a panel discussion on LGBTQIA+ radio presented by the NFSA at the 2015 SpringOUT festival. Panel members: Prue Borthwick and Greg Reading (Gaywaves presenters); Peter Hewiston (past 2XX's Gaywavelength presenter); Nicola Hearn, Nida Mollison and Daria Sigma (2XX's Friday Night Lip Service presenters); NFSA curator Chris Arneil; and moderator Cris Kennedy, NFSA.


Gaywaves in numbers

  • 616:16:03 hours of audio digitised – more than 25 days’ worth!
  • 254:35:54 hours of Gaywaves recordings from Dietmar Hollman and Prue Borthwick
  • 361:40:09 hours of other content
Close up of digital tape recording equipment digitising a gaywaves cassette tape.

Digitising one of the Gaywaves cassettes.

We also identified and digitised pre-existing LGBTQIA+ radio recordings in the NFSA collection, including material from stations 3CR Melbourne, 2SER Sydney, 3KND Kool 'N’ Deadly, and Radio National.


The following SoundCloud playlist includes highlights from the hundreds of hours of Gaywaves recordings:

Recordings from the radio program Gaywaves, which ran from 1979 to 2005 on Sydney community radio station 2SER 107.3. Courtesy: 2SER 107.3. Image from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives badge collection.

We gratefully acknowledge Dietmar Hollman’s generosity and foresight in supporting the NFSA through a bequest as well as his significant contribution towards saving this important piece of our national audiovisual history. 


This article was first published in 2016. The text was updated in 2023.


Want to be the first to hear stories and news from the NFSA? 
Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss out.