Frequently Modulating


Chief Investigator: Dr Chris K Wilson (RMIT)

Timeframe: 2007-2015

Australian radio’s relationship with youth

In the mid-2000s the radio dial in each of Australia’s mainland state capitals was home to three stations either purporting to service youth or widely described as doing so. This was remarkable given the federal government maintained a conservative approach to the management of broadcast spectrum at this time and a range of interests competed for its use. Furthermore, each of the three youth stations operating in the mainland state capitals at this time were licensed in separate broadcasting sectors, complicating the notion that these commercial, national and community sectors addressed distinct objectives.

This project examines how this settlement was reached—how mainland state capital radio came to include an outlet of the national broadcaster’s Triple J youth network, a youth community broadcaster, and Nova FM, a commercial station widely described as youth radio when it emerged in the 2000s. In accounting for the development of this settlement, the project focuses on the intersection of technical affordances, including technological, legislative and regulatory conditions that govern the use of radio spectrum, and the discursive formulation of rationales that made it possible to conceive of a specific relationship between radio broadcasting and youth and established the desirability of maintaining this relationship. The project will draw on a range of empirical material to trace the historical lineage of these technical and discursive underpinnings, resulting in both an historical explanation of the broadcasting settlement of the 2000s and a history of the frequently modulating relationship between Australia radio and youth.