Hour 6: 20 years of pure JOY

JOY 94.9 is a gay and lesbian volunteer-based community radio station committed to providing a voice for the diverse lesbian and gay communities, enabling freedom of expression, the breaking-down of isolation and the celebration of our culture, achievements and pride.

JOY was founded by a small group of gay men at a time when they and their friends were being overwhelmed by HIV and AIDS. Three of those men, John Oliver, John Jennings and founding treasurer Philip Burt, reflect on JOY’s formative years. As host Chris Jameson explains, the radio station first went live across Melbourne’s airwaves on 1 December 1993 – World AIDS Day. Exploring the trials and triumphs of getting a grassroots community radio station up and running, our guests recall some of the challenging times of JOY’s history in a light-hearted ‘parental’ manner steeped in pride.

Halfway through the conversation Chris Jameson and John Oliver are joined by Ian McOwan and John Houlihan, two of the station’s earliest volunteers. Ian and John presented shows that were both fun and connected to the community. Like today, serious matters and issues important to gay men and lesbians were often delivered with humour to engage the audience.

Our guests remind us of the original limited reach of the station, the few hours a week that it was allowed to air and the importance of getting the brand out to the community via outside broadcasting – an achievement that was technically beyond the station’s capabilities but that they managed to do nonetheless, from Melbourne’s Midsumma festival using a phone line, to setting up in a shopfront on Prahran’s Commercial Road and even in a bus on Bourke Street. Outside broadcasts remain essential to JOY’s ability to connect to its community, but they are easier to achieve these days.

The discussion of the first nine years of JOY concludes with the submission of an application for a full-time broadcasting licence to the Australian Broadcasting Authority. John Oliver details the importance of community support in this process, with hundreds of letters and emails supporting the application required – and received – from individuals and groups.


John Oliver, John Jennings, Philip Burt, Ian McOwan, John Houlihan

Hosted by Chris Jameson and produced by Chris Furneaux.

Watch the video above or listen to the audio below: