Accessible. Accountable. Alternative!

The community radio station 2AAA-FM has become one of Wagga Wagga’s most important cultural institutions and because of this, the CSU Regional Archives is proud to have a collection focusing on the station’s formative years. Its origins began in 1978 when Stuart Carter from the Students Union of the Riverina College of Advanced Education (now Charles Sturt University) arranged a meeting with parties interested in establishing a local community radio station. This group became the FM Radio Committee with their first meeting occuring on June 9th of that year.

During the following two years, focus was aimed at obtaining a public broadcasting license. To help achieve this, the Wagga Wagga Media Cooperative was formed consisting of people from the FM Radio Committee, the Riverina College of Advanced Education and the Trades and Labour Council.

Led by the Co-op’s first chairman, Bevan Walls, much hard work was made in developing interest for a community radio station within the local community. This eventually led to a license being granted in December 1980. A name for the station was now required and “2AAA-FM” was decided with the A’s standing for Accessible, Accountable and Alternative.

2AAA Letter
The original note to decide what AAA should stand for. From the 2AAA-FM collection, RW3271/16.

During this time, they started to plan test programming in preparation leading up to their official broadcasting date. These test programmes would be broadcast at a temporary location in the Australian Arcade in Fitzmaurice Street. This location would provide several obstacles including the problem of soundproofing. This was resolved by the use of hundreds of empty egg cartons to form an ‘inner shell’.

2AAA Egg Cartons
Photograph that appeared in the Daily Advertiser on 29/06/1981 showing the soundproofing techniques employed during 2AAA’s test broadcast. From the 2AAA-FM collection, RW3271/39.

2AAA-FM officially began broadcasting on July 31st, 1981 on 107.1 FM. This was the result of significant support from the community who rallied around the station by the way of sponsorship campaigns such as ‘Buy-A Brick’ which would help the station pay for their own building.

Although the arcade was suitable for test programming, the members of the Co-operative felt that a more permanent solution was required. Several options were considered, such as buying an old house, but it was decided that a new building was the best way to create a station suitable to 2-AAA’s specific needs.

2AAA Building site photo
Photo of the current site of 2AAA-FM before building had commenced. This clipping is from the newsletter of the FM Community of Wagga Wagga, Radiaction, from June 1980. From the 2AAA-FM collection, RW3271/36.

The building was eventually completed and was officially opened in November 1982. It was located on the corner of Young and Coleman Streets where it stands to this day. The station continues to commit to quality programming and with its 40th anniversary coming up, 2AAA-FM has cemented itself as a vital part of Wagga Wagga’s community.

This post was written by Crispian Winsor, one of our 2017 Scholarship students, who spent a fortnight processing our 2AAA-FM archival collection.


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