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Media Release: NFSA’s Radio 100 Shaken by Youthquake

The National Film and Sound Archive’s (NFSA) major digital exhibition Radio 100 launches a new chapter with Youthquake, which charts the rise of radio as a vital force in the emergence of youth culture in Australia.  

Youthquake highlights the transistor as the first go-anywhere form of media, enabling teenagers of the 1960s to leave the family wireless in the living room and become the first generation to personalise their listening experience. It was, says NFSA curator Simon Smith, ‘a pocket-sized rebellion against the conformity of gathering around a single device’. 

In an age demarcated by the Beatles’ 1964 arrival in Australia, radio allowed icons of international music such as Elvis Presley, and later Kate Bush and Paul McCartney and Wings, to speak directly to young Australians, as well as musical heroes from closer to home such as 1960s teenage sensation Little Pattie, and Greedy Smith from Mental As Anything

Youthquake also charts the rise of talkback radio – an unfamiliar concept to Australians who grew up when broadcasting phone conversations was illegal. Following the changing of this legislation in 1967, talkback radio instilled a sense of immediacy and intimacy to the medium that had never before been experienced.  

The era ushered in the rise of the DJ – presenters with incalculable influence who invented their own catchphrases and had their own fan clubs – such as Stan ‘The Man’ Rofe, Ward ‘Pally’ Austin and later Greg Evans, seen here amongst the winners of the 1977 TV Week Australian Popular Music Awards for Most Popular DJ

Other iconic radio moments celebrated in Youthquake are Ron Casey’s 1968 live radio call from Tokyo of boxer Lionel Rose’s World Bantamweight boxing title victory, the month-long celebration of 2SM’s Rocktober concept throughout the 1970s, the arrival of commercial FM radio broadcasting in 1980 and Barry Bissell’s Take 40 Australia, the country’s most enduring music countdown show. 

‘The storytelling ability of radio, whether through the presenters or talkback callers, gives the medium that feeling of intimacy and immediacy that television never could,’ said Simon Smith. ‘And through the rotation of the latest pop and rock records, radio became the conduit for so many people’s love and knowledge of contemporary music.’ 

The launch of Youthquake builds on the November release of New Waves – the first instalment in the Radio 100 digital exhibition – and on December’s chapter Golden Days, which explored radio’s transition to a vital inclusion in every family home.  

Future chapters comprise: 

JAN 2024 

Chapter 4  
All the Voices 

1970s – now 

Radio as a vital medium for First Nations, LGBTQIA+ and multilingual voices 

FEB 
2024 

Chapter 5 
Let’s Get Digital 

1990s – now 

Digital disruption, tech convergence and radio’s rebirth as audio culture 

 

The NFSA’s Radio 100 Podcast: Who Listens to the Radio? will launch in early 2024. 

Audience CTAs 

  • Radio 100 is available at nfsa.gov.au/radio100  

  • Audiences are invited to share their radio memories at nfsa.gov.au/RadioMemories, such as hearing major news, remembering a particular station or host, responding to a jingle, a specific program, or a song that haunted the airwaves for a summer. 

 Images, audio and vision available here on Dropbox.  

Media enquiries and interview requests:  
Jacqui Douglas | Communications Specialist | 0417 738 434 | comms@nfsa.gov.au