The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has just announced that in 2017 they will be cutting nearly all music programming from Radio National (The ABC is Australia's publicly owned broadcaster, our equivalent to the BBC, and the jewel in her crown is ABC Radio National). Four great and eclectic shows, The Inside Sleeve, The Daily Planet, The Rhythm Divine and The Live Set are to be axed, so that only a single one-hour program per week, The Music Show, will remain. These programs are invaluable to the Australian independent music community - they're not the only music channel from the ABC, but they're the only shows that play much our music and the music of many visiting independent artists. For many of us they are the only way to reach a national audience, and taking them off the air will be devastating. For Australia, this is akin to the BBC taking Jools Holland off the air. ABC RN's broadcasts reach into every nook and cranny of this country, and play an integral part in informing and reflecting our cultural and national identity while providing an unparalleled window on international news and culture.
It's fair to say that I probably wouldn't be doing what I do if it weren't for Radio National's music programming. RN has given me two great gifts; firstly a window throughout my life to the music that has inspired me to be who I am and to do what I do, and secondly, a platform, and actual support, to help deliver my own work to the world.
I grew up out here in what many city folk would call the boonies, 15km down a dirt road outside a village of around three or four hundred souls in a far flung corner of rural New South Wales. It's about seven hours drive North or South to Sydney or to Melbourne, and I don't mind at all - I'm still proud to call this place my home. Back then, as a teenage boy in the bush, pre-internet, the only window I had to a wider musical world beyond the mainstream (the so-called "alternative" guitar-pop of the day) was Lucky Oceans' show The Daily Planet. Lucky's show was eclectic and amazing. He would play an unknown kora player from Mali one minute, an obscure and mind-blowing songwriter from Nashville, Newtown or Northcote the next, and his passion for the music and the human story of it was contagious. I tuned in every afternoon and listened with intent. We are porous creatures, and we absorb everything that we open ourselves up to.
In Lucky's show, I found a daily dose of new inspiration and discovered much of the music that would become a tangible part of who I am as an artist, as a human. There was nothing in the world like the Daily Planet, and I believe that is still true today. I was saddened when the show was shortened several years ago and relegated to a lonely late night time spot, but I continued to tune in. The recent news that the ABC will be cutting the show altogether is heartbreaking to me.
Since I began my work as a recording artist, the support provided by ABC Radio National's fantastic music programs (The Planet, The Live Set, Music Deli, The Inside Sleeve et al) and their respective program producers and presenters has been invaluable to me as an artist. In a country as vast as ours, reaching out to an audience and building a market beyond your home town is an endless, thankless job of hard work, and much of the time that work doesn't even pay off. This situation is not specific to regional artists like myself - I'm sure that every one of my city-based peers will tell you the same. Enter Radio National. Our national broadcaster's charter requires it "to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia" and Radio National have, up until now, always done it well. My work takes me all over the country, and wherever I go, RN has played a major part in connecting me with my audience - there are always people who have discovered my work on an ABC RN program, so they come along to a show.
The ABC's announcement that it will cut music programming from Radio National is devastating news, not only for Australian musicians and music lovers, but for cultural venues and festivals, publicists, promoters, agents, record labels, recording studios, and international artists traveling to our country to perform.
The decision to cut nearly all of this treasured music programming from RN's schedule is the wrong decision, and it must be reversed immediately.
With thanks, x HC