Time that is intolerant Of the brave and innocent, And indifferent in a week To a beautiful physique, Worships language and forgives Everyone by whom it lives; Pardons cowardice, conceit, Lays its honours at their feet. — W H Auden
[Broadcast on PShift (4zzz fm 102.1 friday at noon 18 April 2014. Please note that the words below are not an exact transcript of the show. Readers will need to listen to
Words in square brackets were not broadcast but are included here as an explanation of what was a live broadcast. I take full responsibility for the content of the show but should say upfront that my comments do not reflect on the present crew at Zed – much water under the bridge since then.]
Paradigm Shift — good friday
“Today’s show is called ‘Don’t Bring Your Children to Vegemite Town‘
But before we go there, last week I received a complaint from Department of Child Safety (DOCS) that has called into question my relationship with this radio station. [So I wish to address this first].
About three years ago (2011) when I first came on the Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 fridays at noon) I was asked by one of the Paradigm Shift collective about my early experiences on 4ZZZ. We didn’t get far into that discussion but the announcer did say that my prior relationship with Zed was ‘fascinating’ and that we ‘would have to go into it sometime…’
Well that time has come.
4ZZZ management is currently ‘investigating’ a complaint by DOCS concerning me for alleged ‘breaches of the child safety act‘ and ‘broadcasting licence breaches‘. These allegations have no basis in fact. On two separate occasions on 4 April 2014 I attempted to interview senior government policy advisors about the unlawful removal of a small child from her grandmother by DOCS and on each occasion was refused permission to an interview or even to record the conversation we were having about that. Several of my broadcasts have opposed government removal of aboriginal children from their families. John Pilger refers to these current actions by DOCS as “the 2nd stolen generation”. See John Pilger’s article Another Stolen Generation: how Australia still wrecks Aboriginal Communities
So my relationship with Zed is coming into question, so let’s take up that story.
In 1975, I lived in a share house near the University of Qld.
Two of my housemates were Andrew and Brenda (known as Pic). Pic was one of the first women bus drivers in Brisbane. Pic was employed under equal opportunity policy introduced by the Whitlam Labor government [in 1972]. Women were moving into what was then referred to as ‘non-traditional’ work.
Andrew and Pic both helped build 4ZZZ under the old refectory at UQ. So did a number of other lefties.
They laid the bricks, built the studios, and even brought in a baby grand piano and bricked it into one of the studios.
I later helped out at 4ZZZ myself. Eventually a show made by the Civil Liberties media collective in 1977 (I was in this collective) was banned on 4ZZZ. The show was about the Fraser government’s decision to mine and export uranium.
The station manager Denis Reinhardt (later a journalist and failed mining entrepreneur) said that the program was technically poor. The real reason was that an interview on the 30 minute show had put a federal senator, Neville Bonner, on the spot. Neville Bonner came out against the interests of his own people in favour of the Liberal Party and supported the decision to mine and export Uranium from country.
Our decision to challenge the federal government’s 1976 Uranium decision on that show, [in the streets, and on the wharves] has been vindicated down through the years by recurrent nuclear disasters (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima)
Zed wanted a high power transmission licence and did not wish to offend a Federal Senator. So they banned the show [that was opposed to uranium mining and export].
At that time the longest sustained period of civil disobedience in Australia’s history (Sept 1977 – July 1979) was being waged against the Bjelke-Petersen Government and Zed did not want to be a part of it? [Zed retreated to the University, while the movement moved outside it.]
Over three thousand people were arrested in the streets of Brisbane for illegal street marching during that time. Just what did the people who ran Zed think its political base was?
In 2011, I returned to Zed at the invitation of Eliza from the Paradigm Shift (podcasts are at PShift).
I always found the first song played on 4ZZZ quite ironic.
It was the Who’s ‘We wont get fooled again‘
“I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
Now lets go forward to 1988 when Zed was under pressure yet again. This time Zed was under attack from a cabal of right-wing students at University of Queensland.
This is a report from Radical Times about attempts by UQ student union president Victoria Brazil to evict 4zzz from the student union building in 1988. These highlight the difficulties of running community radio stations in Australia [where freedom of the press is not guaranteed].
“On 14 December 1988, 4ZZZ was taken off air and forcibly evicted from its Students Union premises by a hostile, right-wing students-union executive led by student president, Victoria Brazil.
After a sit-in by supporters at the studios, 4ZZZ eventually regained the airwaves. Six months later, 4ZZZ decided to move off campus, firstly to temporary premises on Coronation Drive in the nearby suburb of Toowong.
In 1992, the station was able to obtain a loan to buy the former headquarters of the Communist Party of Australia. 4ZZZ-FM still broadcasts from these premises on St Paul’s Terrace in Fortitude Valley.” — Radical Times
That was a news report about the events of 1988 when a national party puppet tried to shut down 4zzz. This demonstrates how difficult it is to run a radio station that takes up a political position.
Both mainstream news reports are factually in error about the reasons for closure of 4zzz … but that is another story.
To listen to 4ZZZ eviction broadcasts go to the Radical Times Historical Archive, scroll down to the section on 4ZZZ, and click on this thumbnail image at position 4D. When you go to the Radical Times web site and click on this thumbnail image you can hear the podcast.
At the site there is a 4ZZZ special report about the eviction…
One of a series of emergency broadcasts sent out from the transmitter hut on Mount Coot-tha to rally public support immediately after the eviction, can be heard starting at 3′ 10″ and ending at 6′ 32″.
The truth is Zed had sufficient political support to keep going at UQ as demonstrated by the 1,000 people who turned up (I was one) to defend the station on 14 December 1988. The full story behind the departure of 4zzz from the University of Qld is yet to be told. What were the staff who made the decision thinking when they left? Was it even a political decision?
To give an idea of the level of support, Ross Watson, the founder of Murri Radio (98.9FM), who passed away last year, was on hand to give support to 4ZZZ. Communist Party of Australia virtually gifted its building in at 291 St Pauls Terrace, Fortitude Valley to 4ZZZ by selling the property for only $225,000 to Creative Broadcasters where Zed remains to this day. [This statement is based on the discrepancy between the sale price and the market value of the property in 1992 and the fact that the CPA had already been liquidated by 1992].
Both news reports were factually wrong – for example the ABC report was wrong to say Zed was a ‘University radio station’; from 1975 Zed had a special broadcasting licence granted originally by Moss Cass (ALP) and then by the Fraser (Lib) government. It had an educational component but that was not tied to the University. To this day (perhaps ironically) Zed’s slogan still proclaims: ‘Agitate, Educate, Organise’.
Even though it turned out to be a disappointment politically, Zed survived as the only community radio station that came out of the Left in Qld. Zed came out of the anti-war movement during the war in Vietnam [a war that saw millions of Vietnamese people killed, 58,000 US soldiers and 500 Australians].
I was going to play the rest of that song ‘Won’t get fooled again’ but I never liked it so lets go to a song by Andy about growing up in a town called Wollar in Gomeroi country in Northern NSW. In a previous life at the ATO I audited Peabody from Peabody Coal referred to in Andy’s song. Not pretty. [Thiess Peabody Mitsui Coal, sic]”
PShift continues with ‘Don’t Bring Your Children to Vegemite Town‘
18 April 2014
Radical Times website by Peter Gray
Resources: Radio Station 4ZZZ-FM Brisbane
Contents: 12 film streams and 24 audio streams (broadcasts)
Please note that the comments below dated prior to 18 April 2014 relate to an earlier version of this post. I have included them here so that different perspectives to mine are aired.