Radio National: Wikis


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Radio National
Broadcast area Australia Australia - National AM/FM and Internet
Frequency Variable
First air date 1923
Format Talk
Owner Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Radio National is an Australia-wide non-commercial radio network run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Radio National broadcasts national programming in areas that include news and current affairs, the arts, social issues, science, drama and comedy. Some programs are relayed on Radio Australia, the ABC's international free-to-air shortwave service.

Radio National currently has 327 transmitter sites and covers over 98% of the permanently inhabited areas of Australia. Remote areas are served by satellite service.

All radio programs are available for live streaming over the Internet, and most(excluding drama , poetry and music) as audio-on-demand, or for download as MP3's for at least four weeks after broadcast. Some programs are available as MP3's going back to 2005, when Radio National commenced podcasting. About 25% of shows, mainly the flagship weekly shows, have written transcripts archived back to 1996.



From 1928, the National Broadcasting Service, as part of the federal Postmaster-General's Department, gradually took over responsibility for all the existing stations that were sponsored by public licence fees ("A" Class licences). The outsourced Australian Broadcasting Company supplied programs from 1929. In 1932 a commission was established, merging the original ABC company and the National Broadcasting Service. It is from this time that Radio National dates as a distinct network within the ABC, in which a system of program relays was developed during the subsequent decades to link stations spread across the nation.

Radio National's Sydney station 2FC [1] first broadcast on 5 December 1923. 2FC stood for Farmer and Company, the original owner of the station before the ABC took it over.

The origins of the other stations in the network were:

3AR Melbourne – 26 January 1924 "Associated Radio".[2][3]
5CL Adelaide – 20 November 1924 "Central Broadcasters Ltd"
7ZL Hobart – 17 December 1924
4QG Brisbane – 27 July 1925 "Queensland Government"
6WN Perth – 5 October 1938 "Wanneroo"
2CY Canberra – 23 December 1938
2NA Newcastle – 20 December 1943

From 1947 until the mid-1980s, "Radio 2" (as it came to be known, after BBC Radio 2) was broadcast to the major metropolitan centres, with a large broadcast footprint in adjacent areas due to the powerful AM transmitters in use. It contained most of the ABC's national programming.

In the 1970s, the network's program format began to take on a more serious tone, a style which continues to this day. Art critic Peter Timm later remarked that the network is "virtually the only non-print media forum for art in this country."[4]

In the early 1980s the broadcast footprint was extended with the construction of the first of over 300 regional FM transmitters (including community re-broadcast sites). In 1985, the ABC renamed "Radio 2" as "Radio National".

Since 1990, all Radio National stations have had the same callsign format, Radio National preceded by the appropriate number for the state or territory, sometimes followed by the locality (e.g., "2RN Sydney", "3RN Melbourne").

As a result of cuts in the 1996–97 budget, Radio National was hit with a reduction of a million dollars in its funding, with a significant impact on programming.[5]

2008 restructure

In 2008, controversial programming cuts once more raised the issue of funding cuts to the public broadcaster.[6][7][8][9][10] Presenter Stephen Crittenden leaked confidential Radio National programming changes in an unscheduled live broadcast before the start of his show, vehemently criticising his superiors.[11]

Stephen Crittenden was suspended for his outburst, amid criticism from some colleagues for his unprofessionalism and praise from others for his outspokeness[12]. His unscripted comments not included in the ABC's podcast and transcript of the program, but the subsequent comment by religious commentator Paul Collins on reiterated Crittendon's fears[13] Crittenden was eventually reinstated as a reporter in the flagship investigative program Background Briefing after an independent investigation resulted in a confidential settlement with the presenter [14]. However his program and the other eight cancelled or merged were not re-instated.

Another casualty of the controversy was head of ABC Radio Sue Howard, who was dismissed in 2009, partly for the perception that the controversy was mishandled.[15]


The times shown relate to Radio National's schedules in the eastern states of Australia. Pre-recorded shows are broadcast on time delay in the centre and west.

Full program guides for all the different regional variations can be see at The Radio National website.



  • AM, The World Today, PM: in-depth news and analysis (Monday to Fridays at 07:10, 12:00, and 17:00)
  • Asia Pacific: current regional affairs in the Asia Pacific region, from ABC Radio Australia (Tuesday to Saturday at 00:05 and 05:00)

News and analysis

  • Counterpoint hosted by Michael Duffy with views from libertarian perspectives (Mondays 16:00, repeated Fridays 13:00)
  • Breakfast: "comprehensive coverage and analysis of national and international events - serious, fun, topical and diverse" hosted by Fran Kelly (Mondays–Fridays, 06:00 to 08:30; includes BBC and CNN coverage before 06:30, and AM at 07:10)
  • Bush Telegraph: "an entertaining look at rural and regional issues around Australia" (Mondays–Fridays 11:00)
  • Background Briefing ABC Radio's agenda-setting current affairs investigative program (Sundays 09:00 repeated Tuesdays 19:00, Wednesdays 04:00)
  • The National Interest features in depth analysis of national issues of interest (Fridays 18:00; repeated Saturdays 03:00, Sundays 12:00), hosted by Peter Mares (formerly by writer and journalist Terry Lane)
  • The Health Report: appealing to "both specialist and mainstream audiences by applying a broad definition of health, and seeing health and medicine within social, scientific and political contexts" and hosted by Dr Norman Swan (Mondays 08:30, repeated Tuesdays 00:30)
  • The Law Report: "Breaking legal stories across Australia and overseas, analysing law reform, legal education, test cases, miscarriages of justice and examining legal culture" (Tuesdays 08:30, repeated Wednesdays 00:30)
  • Life Matters, hosted by Richard Aedy and including the Talkback Classroom segment, talks with the main people behind Australia's social policies – from workplace issues to education, health, family relationships, and social change (Mondays–Fridays 09:00 and 21:00)
  • Late Night Live, hosted by Phillip Adams (Mondays–Thursdays 22:00–23:00 and repeated the following afternoon at 16:00)


  • Australia Talks: Mondays–Wednesdays 18:00–19:00, repeated Tuesdays–Thursday 03:00)

Arts and music

  • Artworks: What's happening now in new music, art and culture in Australia and around the world (Sundays 10:00, Tuesdays 15:00)
  • Airplay: radio plays (Sundays 15:00 repeated Fridays 19:00, )
  • Poetica: poetry featured and produced for radio (Saturdays 15:00 , repeated Thursdays 15:00)
  • Music Deli: live music performances (Fridays 20:00 repeated Sundays 16:00 and Tuesdays 2:00)
  • The Music Show: latest developments in music, featured music and interviews with performers/composers (Saturdays 10:00–12:00 and 20:00–22:00)
  • Sound Quality: latest new music in the genre of electronica and others hosted by Tim Ritchie, former JJJ announcer and DJ (Fridays 23:20, Part 2 repeated Mondays 00:30)
  • The Daily Planet : "a unique window into the world's diverse, traditional and innovative musics ... Good players don't put music into little boxes, so we don't either" Presented by Lucky Oceans (Mondays–Fridays 14:30-15:00 and repeated Mondays–Thursdays 23:10)
  • The Weekend Planet: Ranges across the world’s most eloquent, individual, intimate, inventive beautiful music. Each edition is highly diverse, but has a particular focus. Surprising connections abound. Amazingly rich playlists. Presented by Doug Spencer (Saturdays and Sundays 22:00)
  • 360: "the best radio features and documentaries from Australia and around the world" (Saturdays 14:00, repeated Wednesdays 13:00)
  • The Night Air: "listening for pleasure: an audio adventure in which ideas, sounds and music are remixed around a new theme each week" (Sundays 20:30; Part 1 repeated Fridays 21:30, Part 2 repeated Saturdays 00:00)
  • The Book Show: discussion of everything relating to the written word, presented by Ramona Koval (Monday to Fridays 10:00, repeated 20:00)
  • Into the Music: Exploring and celebrating all aspects of music. Ranging across the history of music, the lives and experiences of musicians and the practices of music-making. Presented by Robyn Johnston (Saturdays 17:05, repeated Sundays 01:05 and Fridays 15:05)


Radio National's religion unit provides reporting and analysis on religious and ethical issues for Australia. Following its ABC charter obligations, this unit forms a key part of the ABC's religion output, and is unique in providing the independent analysis of a public broadcaster.

  • Encounter : "a radio documentary series exploring connections between religion and life" (Sundays 07:10, repeated Wednesdays 19:00)
  • The Rhythm Divine : "a musical journey through the world of belief" (Fridays 21:00, repeated Sundays 05:00)
  • The Spirit Of Things: "an adventure into religion and spirituality, exploring contemporary values and beliefs" (Sundays 18:00, repeated Tuesdays 13:00 and Wednesdays 02:00)


  • All In The Mind presented by Natasha Mitchell, investigates the mental universe, the mind, brain and behaviour (Saturdays 13:00, Mondays 13:00). There is also an All in the Mind blog.
  • Big Ideas deals with concepts of global importance (Sundays 17:00, repeated Mondays 00:00, Friday 4.00)
  • The Philosopher's Zone: your guide through the strange thickets of logic, metaphysics and ethics, presented by Alan Saunders. (Saturdays 13:35, Mondays 13:35)


  • The Science Show: recent developments in the field of science, presented by Robyn Williams (Saturdays 12:10–13:00, repeated Mondays 19:10–20:00, Tuesdays 4:00)
  • All in the Mind: lateral explorations of the mind, brain and human behaviour presented by Natasha Mitchell (Saturdays 13:00, repeated Mondays 13:00).
  • Ockham's Razor: a weekly opinion piece presented by Robyn Williams (Sundays 8:45)

See also

External links



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