First Gay Radio in the World
Melbourne had the first gay and lesbian radio station in
the world. Starting with a 90 day test licence in 1993, Joy Radio was one of
only four community stations to receive a full licence in 2001.
The station now has a wide gay and non-gay listenership in Melbourne.
For a gay and lesbian organization that has grown to
have the second largest membership in Australia, and a radio station with
a current estimated 100,000 listeners during the week, JOY Melbourne had
an inauspicious start. "Can I have a cup of coffee and then we'll get
going?" were the first words (accidentally) spoken on air on the new
station by presented John Oliver, when it first went to air on World AIDS
Day, the 1st December 1993.
Broadcasting for a 90-day test licence for the first time, the station was
a dream of a group of individuals who had wanted to have an outlet that
would be a voice for gay and lesbian people.
"So they would have a voice, they would be able to get on air and
talk about their thoughts and feelings. And also for people who were home
ill with HIV who couldn't get out could tune in and hear what was going
on," Oliver said about his vision. "We had everything else. Why
couldn't we have something like this?". The original idea had come to
him after a two hour long AIDS special he had planned to commemorate World
AIDS Day had been rejected the previous year by a community radio station
(they later reneged and aired the special - but by then the idea for gays
to have their own station had been born). The new station immediately
impacted on the community, with Oliver telling of a young AIDS-stricken
man who rang to say he was happy to have heard the first broadcast. He was
dead two weeks later.