Italian, Country, Arabic, Greek and Gold
Almost 70 low power stations are now broadcasting in Australia’s expanded AM radio dial almost two decades after the new channels became available says the Radio Heritage Foundation which has released a contemporary guide to them at www.radioheritage.net.
Originally populated by ethnic broadcasters and niche formats, the situation remains little unchanged in 2009 as attempts to bring the low cost extra frequencies into mainstream media have largely failed to materialize.
Existing commercial broadcasters saw these licences as a dangerously cheap back door into digital broadcasting and lobbied strongly to exclude 1611-1701 AM stations from digital entitlements. Coupled with poor availability of AM radios able to tune to the new frequencies, attempts by commercial aspirants like Radio 2 to establish economics of scale and a nationwide network collapsed.
In 2009, the major players on air are Rete Italia [part of the Italian Media publishing and media group], Radio 16 The Goanna [a fledgling country music network co-owned with 2ME an Arabic language station], Smart Group’s Hot Country from Queensland, whilst a small foothold in the band has been claimed by Queensland based Christian network Vision FM.
A small cluster of independent stations air a variation on the ‘Gold’ music format of 1960’s hits popular with babyboomers, two Greek language stations compete for listeners in Sydney, and a handful of other stations serve ethnic markets for Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Islamic and Lebanese Christian audiences.
A large number of licences held in the 1611-1701 AM band have remained silent for many years and are unlikely to ever come on air.
The Radio Heritage Foundation has released a detailed list of Australian stations currently operating in the 1611-1701 AM band together with analysis of this fascinating and little known broadcasting landscape.
It’s currently available as a downloadable Word document at www.radioheritage.net and will be updated regularly.