In The Beginning…
To faithfully trace the history of 2RRR, you must draw a time line beginning in 1972 with the election of the Whitlam government. This election facilitated the birth of community radio, as the government called for public broadcasting tenders. In the ensuing Fraser years, the medium grew, albeit slowly, and by the mid-1980s there was a plethora of public radio stations in Australia, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne.
2RRR was the brainchild of a few local residents; Jane Grey, Sheila Swain and the late Hunters Hill Alderman Moira Baird. Jane Grey was Ryde’s Community Information Librarian and an executive member of the Ryde-Hunters Hill Health and Welfare Services Co-ordinating Committee.
Inspired by a speech by Michael Law to Friends of the ABC and frustrated by communication problems at the grassroots, Jane Grey floated the notion of community radio for Ryde and Hunters Hill. Although she admits to conceiving the idea, Jane attributes much of the success to Michael Law.
Oh, he really is the father of public broadcasting. He gave us so much support and encouragement in the early years.
That was in 1976. Now, decades later, 2RRR is broadcasting to a wide range of interested groups and individuals in the Ryde, Hunters Hill and surrounding areas, in fact, most of the inner Sydney region.
This near ten year road to achievementhad its difficulties. Four years of inertia threatened the prospects of a community radio station for the area. Only the enthusiasm of the pioneers ensured that the station was not stillborn.
The growth of 2RRR can be divided into two periods: 1976 to 1978, and 1982 onwards.
The tempestuous years between 1976 and 1978 were marked by long meetingsabout the need for, and the cost of, such a facility. The interest faded when the federal Department of Communications ended all test broadcasts and 2RRR was relegated to the backburners.
In 1982, a monumental reawakening occurred. A letter to Jane Grey from the Department invited applications for community radio licenses, and so she immediately contacted the original group of activists. On the 2nd of March 1982, Sheila Swain was elected Chairman of a Steering Committee, charged with the task of preparing a license application. In the following three months, twelve people worked on the application.
All systems go!
On the 3rd of September 1982, the Steering Committee learned that its license had been approved, and that Ryde and Hunters Hill were to have a community radio station. For the next eighteen months, four committees worked at a breakneck pace, to get on air. There were many enthusiasts, but no equipment, no lodgings, and no money.
Ryde and Hunters Hill Councils succoured the station with donations and the principal of Meadowbank TAFE, Geoff Marler, offered the station 13A See Street, Meadowbank. Training in broadcasting techniques were held at 2SER’s Macquarie University studios, under the guidance of 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 the practical side, setting up the studio and antenna. Geoff Grace organised a massive letterbox drop in the area, alerting the community to the existence of their very own community access station.
Programming under Joan Sharry, Keiran Ryan and later Chris Schofield and finance under Joan Stilton, Brian Frankham and Beverley Sharpe were also working hard get the station to air. At this time, the youth group was formed, under the direction of Liz Smith and Mark Robinson.
The first broadcast
The first voice to hit the airwaves was Rev. Richard Mau in 1984.
In the beginning, the station was on air for only three days a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were a variety of programs even then, with news and interviews, concentrating on local issues and identities, sport, religion, environment, theatre and a program on nutrition. Music ranged from Top 40 to the classics.
Using a government grant, the station employed four people, Tom Leddon as Station Co-ordinator, Russell Taylor and Liz Ashard as producers and Jacqui Russellas secretary. Clair Laine was in charge of sponsorships, and her wages were paid by money generated by sponsorships, as has been the case since with Greg Cox and laterly Christina Alvarez.
The station has been fortunate enough over the years to have several government grants to allow the employment of office staff.he station to air. At this time, the youth group was formed, under the direction of Liz Smith and Mark Robinson.
Onward and upward
1986 was the start of extensive involvement in outside broadcasts, which has probably done more to lift the station’s public image and awareness than any other publicity medium that has been used.
In 1988, the bicentennial year, 2RRR moved its studios to historic Henley Cottage, on Victoria Road, in Gladesville, where it has been ever since.
After many years of the status quo, 2RRR finally found a home and a voice at the end of the 1990s. During 1999, both of the main studios were completely revamped, will all new equipment, as well as the installation of a third studio. Security systems were installed, a music library set up, and heading1 into 2000, new volunteer positions and sub–committees were formed to take on the increasing work load.
Now and Into the Future…
In 2012, 2RRR began streaming worldwide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Through this, many of our programs have enjoyed the rewards of a newly found international audience, especially for some of our niche music programs. Many of our ethnic programs are also being listened to on a weekly basis by an extended national audience where some aren’t able to access programs of particular languages in their local areas.
With the introduction of a new Youth program in early 2013 and subsequent Youth Content Coordinator position, our involvement with local schools has grown immensely. In late 2013, 2RRR appointed a new Executive Breakfast Producer which has seen our reputation as providing entertaining and informative breakfast programs soar.
Painting of the 2RRR Studios in Henley Cottage by 2RRR presenter and volunteer, Don Stephens, 2012.