Melbourne is known for good coffee, horrible weather, Australian Rules football and militant unions. Since 1974, community radio station 3CR has been a supporting beam in the city’s radical infrastructure.
Green Left Radio, like all 120 programs on the station’s schedule, are calling on listeners and supporters to donate to the annual 3CR Radiothon and keep the signal strong on their June 16 show.
Ever Friday morning, nurse Lalitha Chelliah, childcare worker Jacob Andrewartha and building worker Zane Alcorn are up before 6am and on air at seven, reviewing local and international news, interviewing activists in the thick of it and promoting political music and arts for the hour-and-a-half-long program.
They Green Left Radio Collective are all Socialist Alliance activists and well-connected to the struggles around town and around the world, so there’s never any shortage of material.
“We’ve interviewed John Setka from the CFMEU just after the police pulled him over with his family on the way home from Victoria Markets on trumped-up charges,” Alcorn told Green Left Weekly when asked to name some highlights.
“We interviewed Greens candidate Jim Casey after ALP candidate Anthony Albanese targeted him with some crass redbaiting; ACTU president Ged Kearney just after the penalty rate cuts were announced; [Retail and Fast Food Worker’s Union] secretary Josh Cullinan after the rebel fast food and retail union was launched to take on the craven sellout SDA.”
Alcorn says a highlight for him was an interview with Kurdish Australian Hawshin Azeez, who is playing a leading role in rebuilding the city of Kobane in northern Syria after the devastating ISIS siege. “She painted such a vivid picture,” he said.
“We cross-pollinate,” said Chelliah. “We use material from GLW on the show, and we have regular spots with GL journalists and contributors, but we also provide stories for print and online publication with our local interviews.
“People know us now. I turn up at a union meeting or event and ask people for an interview and they’re like ‘I know your voice’. We can talk to them as fellow activists and get the real story — the story that’s not in the mainstream media.”
Green Left Radio is one of six breakfast programs on 3CR and the presenters touch base every week to ensure they cover different stories. On NAIDOC, International Women’s Day, May 1 and other important days on the activist calendar, the shows mix it up to provide all day programming.
On May 1, Andrewartha interviewed newly elected ACTU Secretary Sally McManus as part of the station’s festival of unionism.
“All of radical Melbourne is represented on 3CR,” he said. “First Nations activists, migrants and refugees, unionists, socialists, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, ex-prisoners and squatters. It really reflects where the left is at in this city.”
“There are First Nations shows every day,” said Chelliah, “and a huge number of different migrant shows at night. People with disabilities, LGBTIQ communities.
“This station provides a great way for people to communicate with their communities. Its totally vital.”
Melbourne listeners can listen to 3CR by tuning in to 855 on the AM dial. Green Left Radio is also livestreamed and podcast at www.3cr.org.au .