A journey to the present
The history of 2RRR begins with the 1972 election of the Whitlam government. This new government ushered in the advent of community radio by calling for public broadcasting tenders. The medium grew slowly. By the mid-1980s there were some public radio stations in Australia, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne.
2RRR was the brainchild of a few local residents: Jane Grey, Ryde’s Community Information Librarian and executive member of the Ryde-Hunters Hill Health and Welfare Services Co-ordinating Committee, Sheila Swain and the late Hunters Hill Alderman, Moira Baird.
Inspired by a speech by Michael Law to the Friends of the ABC, Jane Grey floated the idea of community radio for Ryde and Hunters Hill. Although she admits to conceiving the idea, Jane attributes much of the success to Michael Law. She said:
‘Oh, he really is the father of public broadcasting. He gave us so much support and encouragement in the early years.’
That was 1976.
Now, decades later, 2RRR broadcasts to a diverse range of interested communities, groups and individuals in the Ryde and Hunters Hill areas and, with the advent of streaming services, all over the nation and the world.
The long road to broadcast
It was a ten year road to realise the goal of a community radio station. The growth of 2RRR can be divided into two periods: 1976-78, and 1982 onwards.
The years 1976-78 saw long discussions about the need and costs of a local radio station. Interest faded when the Department of Communications ended all test broadcasts.
In 1982, things changed. A letter to Jane Grey from the Department invited an application for a community radio licence. On 2 March 1982, Sheila Swain was elected Chairman of a Steering Committee. In the following three months, twelve people worked on the licence application.
On 3 September 1982, the licence for a Ryde and Hunters Hill community radio station was granted. For the next 18 months, four committees worked to get on-air. Initially there was much enthusiasm, but no equipment, no site and no money.
Ryde and Hunters Hill Councils provided the station with donations. Principal of Meadowbank TAFE, Geoff Marler, offered the station premises at 13A See Street, Meadowbank. Training in broadcast techniques was held at 2SER’s Macquarie University studios, overseen by Joan Sharry and Mary Dennison from AFTRS, Bill Hogan (PBAA), Ken Quodling, Jackie Reidpath and Greg Fernandez.
Keiran Ryan, Kit Scally and David James worked on technical requirements, setting up the studio and antenna. Geoff Grace organised a massive letterbox drop in the area to let the community know they now had a community access station.
Joan Sharry, Keiran Ryan and later Chris Schofield managed programming. Finance was under Joan Stilton. Volunteers included Brian Frankham, Beverley Sharpe, Liz Sharpe and Mark Robinson.
The first broadcast
The first voice to hit the airwaves was Rev. Richard Mau in 1984.
Initially, the station was on-air only Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There was a variety of programs: news and interviews, a focus on local issues and identities, sport, religion, environment, theatre and nutrition. Music ranged from Top 40 to the classics.
With a government grant, the station employed four people: Tom Leddon as Station Co-ordinator, Russell Taylor and Liz Ashard as producers as well as Jacqui Russell as secretary. Claire Laine was in charge of sponsorships.
1986 saw the start of extensive involvement in outside broadcasts.
In 1988, 2RRR moved its studios to historic Henley Cottage on Victoria Road, Gladesville, where it has been ever since.
During 1999, both of the main studios were completely revamped with all new equipment, as well as the installation of a third studio. Security systems were installed, a music library set up, and new volunteer positions and sub–committees formed to take on the increasing work load.
In 2012, the studios were painted by presenter and volunteer, Don Stephens. That year also saw 2RRR begin streaming worldwide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many of our programs, including specialist and ethnic shows, have national and international listeners.
Starting in 2013, our Youth Programs have increased our engagement with local schools. Our commitment to learning is evidenced in our conduct of the well respected, and fully subscribed, 2RRR Radio Training Course.
2RRR continues to broadcast to its diverse audience and is constantly evolving with the times. Having clocked up over three decades of broadcast activity, the future is an exciting prospect.