It goes without saying that community radio in Australia has been a godsend, ever since the first broadcaster 5UV in Adelaide began transmission in 1972. They broke a monopoly held by the ABC and commercial radio networks and opened the door for thousands of volunteers to participate in the presentation of a diverse range of programs. There are now over 450 stations nationwide and Sydney is particularly well served with stations such as 2SER, Northside Radio, FBi, 2RDJ and Eastside Radio.

In the early days many of these stations struggled with weak signals and the not insignificant cost of running a broadcaster, even though they only employed one or two salaried staff. Digital radio and streaming have obviously enhanced their broadcasting capabilities but many stations still struggle with financing. Attracting subscribers, advertisers and fundraising is a constant priority.

One factor that has really kept community stations on air is passion, on the part of both their dedicated listeners and their presenters and production volunteers. There’s a connection between those listeners and the various on air announcers that transcends the talk back idolatry and overpaid buffoons present on much of commercial radio. Hand in hand with passion goes accessibility, a quality for example that allows many independent musicians to get their music played on air, promote their gigs and for others to spruik a political or social cause that is relevant to the community.

Some community stations are more accessible than others with a number actually criticised for making the process of scoring an interview or getting your music played difficult. One radio station that has constantly set a high standard for encouraging interviews, independent airplay and engaging with the community is Eastside Radio, currently celebrating some 40 years on air.

Since its humble origins in 1983 Eastside has established a strong reputation for promoting a wide range of music styles from jazz, blues, hip hop, soul, funk, world and indie rock. They have also provided exposure for a broad spectrum of the arts as well as a forum for the discussion of social and political issues. Whilst their main studio is based in Paddington with a second studio recently added at the Bondi Pavilion, they have more than just an Eastern Suburbs presence. It’s fair to say they are now very much a Sydney wide station with listeners spread all over the city and surrounds.

For some music communities, like Sydney’s buzzing jazz scene, they have been invaluable with dedicated presenters like Matt McMahon, Dan Barnett, Peter Nelson, Virginia Lowe and Mick Paddon, to name just a few. Many of their weekly programs, like ‘Blow’, presented by musicians Matt and Dan, have been running for decades. As part of their programming philosophy they have always been most accommodating with interviews, airplay and the promotion of local gigs.

You can become a supporter of Eastside radio for as little as $49.00 a year at and the station also accept donations at They also hold numerous fund raising events and an annual radiothon.

There are too many unique, long running and highly original programs on Eastside to list here but you might like to check out the following – both live and with a follow up podcast.

‘Blow’ ( – Thursdays at 2pm with two of this country’s most respected jazz musicians, Matt McMahon and Dan Barnett. Lots of interviews and gig announcements.

‘Across the Tracks ( – Sundays at 4pm with Tim Gunn digging deep in to the treasures of  Southern Soul, Blues, Gospel, Rhythm’n’ Blues, Jazz, Western Swing, Honky Tonk, Swamp Pop and Zydeco.

‘On The Corner’ ( – Wednesdays at 1pm. Peter Nelson presents a showcase of the Australian jazz and improvised music scenes including an ever expanding archive of original recordings made at gigs around Sydney.

‘Merchants Of Soul’ ( – Saturdays at 6pm with Tess Morgan, Molly Pop and Hildy Fine plus guest dj’s taking you on a a musical journey spanning soul, funk, boogie, free jazz, reggae and global beats – dusty rarities and classic treats.

‘Found Sounds Lost Horizons’ ( – Tuesdays at midday. Another duo of musicians in Ben Fink and Trevor Brown explore a broad range of music genres – jazz, blues, and world in its many flavours from the African continent to the Middle-East, India and beyond.

And check out the entire program roster at:

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