3CR: Activating the airwaves, speaking truth to power

3CR Community Radio Melbourne is almost 40 years old. On July 3, 1976, broadcasting from its base in Armadale, 3CR began sending its message out to a radius of just 16km. The station now broadcasts on digital radio and online platforms but the core value remains the same: providing a voice for those denied access to the mass media, particularly the working class, women, Indigenous people and the many community groups and issues discriminated against, in, and by, the mass media.

“In those early days of the 1970s 3CR epitomised the pent up energy of so many unheard voices in Australian society,” said 3CR broadcaster Joe Toscano.

In those days, the Whitlam Government was trying to break the strangle hold of commercial and government (ABC) stations that existed at the time.

Today in Australia two companies, News Limited and Fairfax Media, own 88% of the print media and the ABC has been gutted by an ideologically driven government.

“It’s crucial that people in our community have access to the information and knowledge that makes our world tick,” said Marian McKeown, 3CR Station Manager. “And in a political landscape where media barons and mining magnates can make or break governments, it’s crucial that we get information that’s unfiltered by corporate interests.”

For four decades 3CR has provided incomparable coverage of the most important environmental, political and social struggles. 3CR was at Honeymoon mine, Roxby Downs and the Franklin River. It was on the water-front with the Maritime Union of Australia when Patrick Stevedores brought in the dogs and the police. 3CR was bringing people the news as the Indonesian militias attacked the East Timorese after the 1999 elections.

“3CR is well placed to provide a serious account of what’s happening in the world because our broadcasters are active participants in it,” said McKeown. “Our broadcasters are Indigenous activists fighting the closure of remote communities; they’re rank and file unionists, disability activists and East-West tunnel picketers. Our independence means we are able to provide news and analysis from the ground up, without worrying about what advertisers will think or what the ratings or opinion polls say because the issues we cover on-air are determined by people in the community.”

With a passionate crew of more than 400 volunteer programmers broadcasting 130 programs each week in 20 languages, the station relies on its annual Radiothon to keep the station on air for the next twelve months.

[The 3CR Radiothon runs June 1 -14 on 3CR 855AM, digital & online. Donate online at 3cr.org.au/donate, call (03) 9419 8377, or send a cheque or money order payable to ‘Community Radio Federation Ltd’ to PO Box 1277 Collingwood 3066.]