We were standing on the railway tracks. It was 9pm. Over a 100 police lurked in the shadows. Special Branch was all around. The ABC evening broadcast came over the radio. The suave voice of an evening news reader declared we had been removed from the tracks. Yet here we stood blocking the uranium train. The police commander bellowed over the loud hailer that we should relent.
From the middle of our sturdy throng, Keith Horsely let out the plaintive cry: “They Lied, it’s a lie, we are still here … Where’s 4PR – the voice of the people? And, as the cops pushed us off the railway tracks, Detective Senior Constable Domenico Cacciola leant down and whispered a warning as we piled up on the ground: “We’re gonna get ya”! True enough, they did.
The uranium train got through that night but was stalled on the wharf by the waterside workers for health & safety reasons.
– Hamilton No 4 Wharf, Brisbane, August 1977.
4PR – Voice of the People is for setting up a dialogue. Like music, political radio is a strong form communication, a way to organise. It is also an educational medium without distraction save for the human voice. At critical times it can be a great help to people, during bushfires, floods and health crises. It is a very warm and personal medium and can defuse violence and help prevent war.
We started out at the forum in the UQ Students Union complex in 1977. This was during the ban on street marches and assembly that Bjelke-Petersen used to stop the anti-uranium protests. Other organised resistance in Qld was brought to a halt while we fought for basic democratic rights. At first 4PR had sound wave broadcasts but as the resistance grew we went to higher power via a pirate fm transmitter on Mt Cootha. Along came ‘George Orwell’ who built our first FM transmitter. The signal could only just reach West End. After three broadcasts our transmitter gave up on us. Our trusty technician built another. That too came to grief – it melted one cold night on Mt Cootha when, in preparation for a pirate broadcast, and under pressure from local police, I connected the car battery terminals around the wrong way – the transmitter and my fingers got fried in the process.
As part of the Civil Liberties Media Committee we did make a radio show on 4ZZZ about mining and export of Uranium. Unfortunately the show was stopped by the 4ZZZ manager, Dennis Reinhardt, when during a pre-recorded interview we asked federal Senator Neville Bonner why he supported ‘Australia’s Uranium Decision’. In 1977 the Fraser government decided to mine and export uranium.
4ZZZ did not want any flack from the federal government in its bid to get a high power licence. So they told us that the quality of our broadcast was not up to scratch.
4PR did make an appearance the following year at the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal public sitting held in Brisbane City Hall. We told the broadcasting tribunal chaired by the reasons why we thought they should not award 4PR a broadcasting licence. The 4ZZZ people in attendance breathed a sigh of relief to see someone in the room to the left (politically) of them .
In fact 4ZZZ had departed from its purpose and ‘adopted rock music as the main content of its musical programming in an attempt to corner Brisbane’ s alternative youth market’ Bill Riner, 4ZZZ broadcaster. 4ZZZ had made its name by critically reporting a raid by police and navy on a hippy commune in Cedar Bay North Queensland. In its desire to reach a wider audience, Zed banned the women’s program, Megaherz, and the Civil Liberties Co-coordinating Committee from its airwaves.
The broadcasting tribunal closed the hearing while the 4PR delegation were removed by attendants.
4ZZZ got its high power licence which enabled it to broadcast throughout Brisbane. 4PR remained on the streets — restricted to sound wave broadcasts in King George Square and at the University.
That did not stop 4PR. We built a radio studio in the West End Resource Centre and together with Friends of the Earth, LeftPress and other community minded people kept the spirit, if not the material reality, of People’s Radio alive – for a time. I still have some of the old tapes which I put up on Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ, Fridays at noon) from time to time.
After many years the Bjelke-Petersen government finally fell.
Now, as the political situation grows worse word-wide, we are thinking of going digital. What do you think? Please comment down below or write to me on email. To give you some idea of what 4PR is, some test broadcasts are down below.
Here’s one on Anarchism thanks to Barbara Hart and Linda from Subversion on Community radio 4ZZZ.
Here are some of recent 4PR episodes:
Greens hold army to account over war crimes
The 20 year war in Afghanistan has led to horrific deaths of civilians, and loss of normal living and has cost the lives of many of the invading forces in a war which was nothing to do with defending – Annette Brownlie, Just Peace. This episode is also available as a blog post: https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2021/03/31/greens-hold-army-to-account-over-war-crimes
Workers BushTelegraph Tue, 30 Mar 2021 20:45:53 GMT
The Shark is Feeding
Paradigm Shift, one of the longest running independent current affairs program on 4ZZZ fm 102.1 has been silenced by management.</p> <p>This episode is also available as a blog post: https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2021/03/26/the-sharks-are-feeding/
Allie Sherlock sings her brilliant cover of Fall in Line by Christina Aguilera & Demi Lovato accompanied by a passer-by on trombone.
Paradigm Shift, one of the longest running independent current affairs program on 4ZZZ fm 102.1 has been silenced by management.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2021/03/26/the-sharks-are-feeding/
Allie Sherlock sings her brilliant cover of <em>Fall in Line</em> by Christina Aguilera & Demi Lovato accompanied by a passer-by on trombone.
You cannot trust the public trustee
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2021/02/24/you-can-not-trust-the-public-trustee-2/
Palm Sunday for Refugees
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2021/03/30/palm-sunday-for-refugees