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Video clip synopsis – Gary Adams describes the experience in the 1970s of listening to pirate radio stations and how this led to the demand for public radio.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 0min 33sec
Tags - audiences, changing communities, communication, culture, identity, media and society, media ownership, media production, self-determination, see all tags


Community radio

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 commradio_pr.mp4 (4.1MB).

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Additional help.

About the Video Clip


This interview with Gary Adams was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Gary Adams is a comic, writer, singer and community radio advocate. You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Australian media organisations

This area of study focuses on an analysis of Australian media organisations and the social and industrial framework within which they operate.

Media products are produced within a cultural, aesthetic, legal, political, economic, institutional and historical framework. Their production, distribution and circulation is affected by law, self-regulatory codes of conduct, industry pressures and the practices of particular media organisations. Other factors (for example, sources of revenue, ratings, circulation, ownership and control) influence the nature and range of media texts produced by individual organisations. Consideration of the impact of these factors on media organisations and their products is important in developing an understanding of the production role of different Australian media organisations.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


The 1970s was Australia’s great decade of change – changing visions, changing values and a changing 'vibe’. The new socially progressive Labor Government under Gough Whitlam reshaped core beliefs and promoted social justice and equality for all Australians. A distinctly 'Aussie’ culture emerged in art, music, fashion and on the stage and screen. And Sydney finally opened its Opera House.

As anti-Vietnam War protests spread across the country in 1971, students at two Melbourne universities set up 'pirate’ radio stations to voice their opposition to the war.

The Government moved swiftly to jam and shut down the unlicensed stations – 3DR Draft Resister’s Radio at Melbourne University and 3PR People’s Radio, broadcasting from the Vice-Chancellor’s toolshed at Monash University.

In 1974, several of Melbourne’s radio station pirates formed the Community Radio Federation (CRF), which lobbied for a licence to legally operate a community-based not-for-profit radio station. CRF wanted to provide a voice for groups without access to the mainstream broadcast media – women, the working class and Indigenous Australians.

Two years later in 1976, CRF gained a licence, and 3CR – Australia’s first community radio station – went to air. For a small joining fee, each CRF member controlled its share of airtime. When 3CR went to air, CRF had more than ninety member groups, from radical trade unions to the Victorian Jazz Society.

Today tens of thousands of volunteers work to operate community radio stations for Indigenous language groups, Australians from non-English-speaking backgrounds and others with common social, cultural or religious interests. Community radio also acts as a reading service for people with a print disability.

Classroom Activities

  1. Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and after viewing the video clip:
    1. Why do you think public radio was needed?
    2. What sort of groups would have felt they needed to have their voices heard?
  2. List as many public radio stations in your area as you can. What groups have access to it and what shows do they produce?
  3. If you were the manager of a public radio station what sort of station would you run?
    1. Who would be your target audience? Which groups would you see making your shows?
    2. Which groups in your area would you encourage to have their voiced heard on programs on your station? Why have chosen these groups?
    3. Write out a typical day’s program for a) a weekday at your station and b) a weekend day.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.