Gaywaves Project

Saving LGBTI radio

The Gaywaves LGBTI radio preservation program
 Chris Arneil

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.

These include more than 250 hours of Gaywaves(Sydney’s first regularly broadcast gay and lesbian radio program) held on compact cassette and VHStapes, alongside other LGBTI-related content from theNFSA 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.

As part of this project, we also acquired other contemporary LGBTI-related radio recordings from around Australia, including: current affairs, news and entertainment programs from LGBTI 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; and 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 LGBTI 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’SGaywaves presenters), Peter Hewiston (past 2XX’s Gaywavelength presenter), Nicola Hearn, Nida Mollison and Daria Sigma (2XX’s current Friday Night Lip Service presenters) and me.

Gaywaves in numbers

Close up of digital tape recording equipment digitising a gaywaves cassette tape.

Digitising one of the Gaywaves cassettes.

  • 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.

Pre-existing LGBTI radio recordings in the NFSAcollection were also identified and digitised, including material from stations 3CR Melbourne, 2SER Sydney, 3KND Kool 'N’ Deadly, and Radio National.

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

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. Check out the many ways you can support the NFSA in our preservation work.