These are just some of the thousands of statements
we have received about the cuts from passionate RN Music listeners.
Janet Holmes à Court AC:
"I believe the board of the ABC and their senior executives need to examine carefully the ABC’s charter. Where it states that the ABC should “encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia”, it should also be remembered that the ABC’s obligation is to service all Australians, not just those that live in capital cities".
"The music programs on Radio National, in all their diversity, play a vital role in developing Australian songwriters, composers and musicians. Their proposed savage reduction on a network that serves the whole country is a senseless blow to our culture."
Katie Noonan, Artistic Director Queensland Music Festival:
"To say I am disappointed by the recent catastrophic cuts to 5 of the 6 music programmes on ABC Radio National would be a grave understatement.
I simply can not fathom how anyone would have thought this was a good idea for the Australian people.
The arts are the intangible forces that unite as a nation.
They inform our cultural identity. They inform our capacity for empathy. They educate, enlighten, promote discourse, they lead, they inspire, they give us a sense of social cohesion, they change peoples lives for the better and they unite us like nothing else can.
In regional Australia these radio shows are the literally the lifeline for cultural connectivity.
Having been lucky enough to tour this great big country of ours many times, I know how absolutely vital these programmes are to people lives.
On a personal level I wonder how I will find out about my fellow artists work now? How will I be able to connect with audiences around the country and let them know about my work?
It’s depressing enough the dwindling coverage of the arts in the newspapers, tv and commercial radio but now the last bastion of integrity - the ABC - too?
The catastrophic effects of these cuts will be enormous on multiple levels - this decision has simply not been thought through properly and absolutely needs to be reversed. I believe the mental health effects will be significant and potentially tragic.
How can our national broadcasting commission dedicate only 3 hours out of every 168 hours per week to music? This is a travesty that simply must be changed."
"The Radio National music programmes are essential to the pulse of this country. They provide the soundtrack for anyone who drives long distances or who works long hours at night, and that's a lot of us. We're not a tiny niche minority, we're spread across all ages, backgrounds and walks of life, and this soundtrack, which we not only need, but PAY FOR, can only be provided by the ABC, which is chartered to serve all Australians"
Paul Grabowsky AO:
"We are a nation known around the world for the quality and diversity of our music making. Rather than demonstrating a capacity for Big Ideas, the decision to axe some of the most important platforms for many of our greatest artists, particularly in non-classical fields, demonstrates a shrinking intellectual vision, and a disturbing growth of narrow, timid strategizing. This is in contravention of the charter of the ABC, for which we the taxpayers pay. My entire career has depended on the access ABC listeners have enjoyed to my music since the 70s. What does this move suggest about your attitude towards our culture, our heritage, your duty of care? Emerging artists need the support of the national broadcaster. The history of modern music proves this repeatedly. Don't bland our culture into a cold porridge of complacent indifference. Have some pride".
Joe Henry (US singer, songwriter, recording artist, 3-time Grammy-winning producer):
"Long before the advent of the internet, music was the original 'social media' --the means by which ideas were shared, affirmed and challenged; communities identified and built upon. Today, music remains the life blood of many, and the most visceral way that we understand there is much more connecting than divides us.
"ABC Radio National's music programming --including The Daily Planet, The Live Set, The Inside Sleeve, and The Rhythm Divine-- has been exemplary, offering a much more nuanced and expansive experience than mainstream commercial outlets allow, thus serving an essential role in showcasing a commitment to artistry beyond commerce, and bearing witness to its diverse and critical role in not only Australia's evolving culture, but in the greater one world-wide in which we all share.
"It is my great hope that the funding cuts to the music programming will be reconsidered. As a musician, I depend on such platforms for my songs to be heard; and as a world citizen, know that my life is improved by an exposure to experiences far beyond my own."
"Dear Michael Mason,
I am shocked to learn that Radio National have abandoned their commitment to music lovers in this country who seek an alternative to what is presented on your own JJ & JJJ formats. The programs that are to be discontinued are carefully curated radio shows that present their audience with a valuable listening experience.
Beyond that they are an essential component of the ecology of this country's music industry with artists finding a place on the airwaves that they are otherwise denied; not because they're not good enough but because they mostly don't fit the ever narrowing format of what is deemed playable on the commercial or "youth" stations. I would understand your decision if the ABC had decided to dedicate JJ to presenting all of these much loved niche shows but as I understand it that is not on the agenda.
You should be mindful of how much you are destroying with this decision, how many people's livelihood will be affected by your quest for whatever it is you're questing for and how many listeners will be truly saddened by this move."
Peter Noble OAM (Festival Director Bluesfest Byron Bay):
Well Bluesfest JUST won Gold tonight for Best Major Event at the NSW Tourism Awards, we are over the moon to have won two years in a row. But, you know, it is the programmes on Aunty ABC, Radio National that have such a fundamental part of supporting us, that have helped us be where we are today. Radio National has been our presenter now for a number of years, and it is the fine programming that has given the fundamental exposure of not only Bluesfest, BUT, through the music programmes, the kind of music we love, and champion. Over the dial on JJJ, the youth network for the under 25's, there are numerous contemporary events who get the benefit of JJJ presents. With that much listenership hearing about those events, they are very successful - think Splendour, the Falls Festival Etc.
Now, over on the adult side of the dial....we are soon going to experience 'the day the music died'. According to sources and media.
The damage that will be done to artists who work the adult music genres, and the events that support them, could be catastrophic...... surely the ABC can't stop programming the music that adult Australia listens to? This just seems so overwhelming, and totalitarian. I would like to bring home a third NSW Tourism Award in a row for Best Major Event next year. It going to be tough if the music isn't being played nationally that I, and so many listeners love...... well that's my story, what's yours?
With respect, please review this decision. It really has such wide ranging outcomes.
I prophesize, that even if this is implemented, it won't be for long.
It just isn't fair. "
Claire Edwardes - Artistic Director, Ensemble Offspring
"First music and the arts were hit last year thanks to the government cuts to the Australia Council and now it feels like music is once again being totally devalued by these proposed cuts by the ABC to the majority of the music programs on Radio National. For me personally as a professional musician and artistic director of a Sydney based group, Ensemble Offspring the biggest concern with these proposed cuts is the lack of access to culture, and specifically music outside of the mainstream for regional audiences. For people who no doubt already feel quite isolated in terms of access to culture, cutting these programs means that a whole range of listeners (from the youth to the elderly) who would get many and varied benefits out of regularly listening to these programs on Radio National are just altogether gone. How is anything but the most basic sense of mainstream commercial culture meant to grow and develop when we take away such programs. If we really want Australia to turn into some cultural backwater with zero vision or sense of freedom and open mindedness then we are certainly going in the right direction people. Stop the cuts to Radio National music programs!”
Glen Hansard (Ireland):
"Music is the heart, radio is the vein,
They deliver this vital energy to the ones who need it most..
it's important that local music is played in the national airwaves, it's part of the evolving of the national spirit.. "
"At a time when it seems every element of home-grown culture is under siege, it’s bewildering to see Radio National stripping music shows from its programming. To musicians, composers, producers and listeners alike, this retreat feels like a betrayal, a signal that ABC management feels no need to repay the loyalty of its audience. For years Radio National has been a defender of Australian culture and a means by which new writers, players and composers find an audience. RN listeners treasure eclectic musical programming; we appreciate being treated as grown-ups. Because music is bigger and broader than a teen demographic. So, why reduce our chances of hearing new and interesting music? When RN is already overburdened with talk, why unbalance things even more? This is a mistake."
"I can't quite believe this ! Are you serious? I am a 55 year old working musician. Nobody caters for my demographic like the music shows on RN. I'm outraged".
Steve Nieve (France/UK) (Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Tim Finn, The Neville Brothers):
“It's bad enough the general decline of the music industry, but add to it national airwaves being commandeered by people who not only understand nothing about real music, but clearly hate music, it becomes necessary for the musicians (and listeners) to band together and put up a fight to protect their livelihoods. Even though I live thousands of miles away, Australia has always been an important audience for the likes of me, and Australian radio very important when it comes to promoting trips to the other end of the world. Clearly Australia has a musical culture and heritage of its own important to foster. I will do all I can to add international voices to the campaign, to see that this wonderful country of deep musical appreciation doesn't become another desert of blandness.
After all it's not just musicians who will lose a platform for expression, the careful listeners too are going to be deprived of their 'choices'. Take a second to add your signature to the petition to save these important programs.....”
Archie Roach AM
“It would be a shame to lose all of that. I don’t see why you would shift the music elsewhere when it’s fine where it is. It’s not broken, so don’t fix it, there’s no need to muck around with it really. It’s a bad decision.”
“Radio National is a platform for alternative voices in a whole lot of areas, whether it be literature, international politics or music, dealing with issues other stations don’t. Their coverage of the arts is vital, I would have thought. Most people would only hear Double J on their TV and most people don’t listen to radio that way, unless it’s really late at night or you’re stuck in a hotel room"
"These programs have supported my music where commercial stations and JJJ refuse to play anything new that I've released since early nineties. I've released 48 albums in my 50 year career. I am still performing 150 shows a year. Where will my music be played ? These are programs where demographics do not matter just the music".
Shane Howard AM:
“ABC Radio National is our only national radio voice, owned by us, the Australian public. Whether you live in inner city, rural or remote Australia, from Woolloomoolloo to Korweinguboora, you’re getting the same stories, the same music, the same information and entertainment and hearing the same voices.
Why does this matter? It matters because, according to ABC RN’s raison d’être:
“RN exists to nurture the intellectual and cultural life of all Australians, and is a vital and integral player in the development of a national conversation around the ideas that matter”.
Not all great musical artists will be heard on the mainstream, commercial stations or JJJ. Great ideas often come from unlikely places. What stations would play the work of iconic artists like Nobel prize winner, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen or Paul Kelly, Archie Roach, Joni Mitchell or the thousands of emerging or independent Australian artists?
ABC RN fills a void and fulfils a very unique role for music. So many people discover music from around Australia and the World from the diversity of musical programs; from classical to folk to contemporary and the appropriate producers give that music context. This is often valuable knowledge and research that not all of us have time to follow up. ABC RN are able to do this because they don’t have to pursue a ‘lowest common denominator’ playlist, like most commercial radio stations.
I have never forgotten the experience of hearing a young Gulurwuy Yunupingu singing Ted Egan’s, ‘Poor Bugger Me’ on RN. It was a galvanizing moment and lit a fire in my head. I can draw a direct line between that experience and the writing of my song ‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground’. Such seemingly small musical moments can have powerful outcomes.
Over many years, I’ve worked with numerous Indigenous and independent artists, as a mentor and producer and without RN, their voices would not have been heard.
I also lived, for five years, in a remote town in the Gulf of Carpentaria. RN was the only station and my lifeline to the World and, while I loved the contest of ideas that constantly raged on air, my life was also enriched and stimulated and comforted by the diversity of music that I may not otherwise have discovered. It was also a constant companion, at home and on long road journeys.
…Plato says it better than me, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything”".
Benjamin Northey (Conductor):
"ABC Radio National is axing a number of music programs next year. Aside from the obvious disappointment at this decision, perhaps the most utterly bewildering statement in the press release reads as follows...
"RN will focus on big ideas and big thinking – and therefore will move away from music programming."
I presumed it was a joke when I first read it.
What would any student of history say about the role of music in the formation of big ideas and big thinking? Tell the Finns that Sibelius had no impact on their identity. Tell the Russians that Shostakovich didn't give voice to otherwise suppressed political ideas. Copland's impact on American identity and values....etc. Here in Australia our musicians and composers make important contributions to national discourse and big picture ideas. To deny this is to deny history. The role of music in society matters and should be respected more than this."
Dobe Newton OAM, Chair of the Country Music Association of Australia
"Attention Country Music Fans
As of January 1st, the ABC plans to move 'Saturday Night Country' from the AM band to a digital channel in metro areas across the nation.
It is impossible to overestimate the value that this program has delivered to our writers and artists and the managers, agents, promoters, labels, publishers, venues etc that support them. A move to digital will undoubtedly impact the exposure of this major Australian music genre.
It will also seriously restrict the ability of country music fans in our major population centres to access the music they love.
The Country Music Association is determined to do everything it can to challenge this decision - as it has already done in supporting the protest to de-commission a number of Radio National music programs.
We will soon call on music fans and the artist and music business communities to lend their support to a campaign to request a reconsideration of this decision.
Our music voice must not be lost in these vital markets."
Ken Stringfellow (USA) (The Posies, REM, Big Star):
"When a country is lucky enough to have a state-funded broadcaster, whose revenues are not dependent on the commerciality of the programmes broadcast, then I believe it is moral and just for that broadcaster to pursue an agenda of maximum diversity, and I believe it should endeavor to counterbalance the generic, US/UK-dominated global charts with a robust range of domestic artists. To do otherwise is a great opportunity wasted, and a betrayal of public trust."
"Our country will be much poorer for this decision.
Radio National has been a life-giving partner for music in Australia, broadcasting work and interviews that have no home in other radio contexts.
These programs, so ably, generously and intelligently curated, produced and presented, have been the source of immense richness for our community.
They’re a critical part of musicians’ livelihood. They’re an essential way to discover and celebrate Australian and international work. For presenters, venues and festival directors, they’re invaluable resources for research. For listeners, they’re a source of wonder, solace, beauty, inspiration and daily company.
The official statement from Radio National tells us the axing of these programs makes way for ‘big ideas’. Across cultures, centuries, continents, music has been the carrier of some of our most humanity-defining ideas. From time immemorial, music has been inextricably linked with ceremony, identity, and meaning. It gives voice to the ineffable, to culture and life-defining ideas. To silence it is to gravely reduce our potential to understand one another, to express who we are, and to create possibilities for who we might become."
Port Fairy Folk Festival:
28 Nov 2016
Open letter from Port Fairy Folk Festival Committee Inc.
RE: The cancellation of The Inside Sleeve, The Daily Planet, The Live Set & Rhythm Divine
As an organisation that supports, promotes and celebrates music and the role it plays in enriching people's lives through cultural experience, social engagement and education, and plays an instrumental role in the regional economy, we are deeply distressed to learn of ABC's decision to cancel the above mentioned programs.
ABC and Radio National have been instrumental in the growth and profile of the iconic Port Fairy Folk Festival, which in 2017 will celebrate its 41st year.
Port Fairy Folk Festival is a not for profit organisation, and the partnership with ABC and RN over the years has enabled the festival to grow to become one of the largest and most sustainable of its kind in the country. The role the RN music programs play is more than giving airtime to music. It enables organisations such as ours to continue to pursue excellence in the presentation of an outstanding music and cultural event, which in turn creates employment for musicians, arts workers, production crew, media, facilities and amenity suppliers and significantly supports a regional economy and sustains a tourism industry.
Cancellation of these programs will have a detrimental effect on the capacity of musicians to tour and be employed, and then in turn affect the live music scene and all suppliers, and the hospitality and tourism economy. The negative effect will resound throughout the country.
We urge all of our subscribers and friends to sign the petition to demand that the Executive of the ABC rethink this decision which will have an extremely negative affect on the music industry across Australia and impact regional and metropolitan centres alike, on an economic, cultural and community level.
For and on behalf of the Port Fairy Folk Festival Committee Inc.
"It Is With Much Respect That I Send This Small Message To The Powers That Be At ABC RN
There Are Not Many National Radio Stations In Australia That Give Voice To Aboriginal Music,
The ABC Is One That Has.
It Is With A Heavy Heart That I Hear That This Might Change With The Thought Of The Cutbacks That Are To Take Place In To The Future,
Please Consider This Message When Making Your Decision,
"I have been a professional musician for over 45 years. I have always been involved in music that was something other than mainstream. Programs like "The Daily Planet" and "The Music Show" have been the only opportunity for the music I have been involved with to be presented to the wider music audience. As a person with a disability I have been able to lead a productive and meaningful life which has been strongly supported by the various musical programs presented on ABC Radio National. It would be a tragedy for those opportunities to be lost for musicians in the future."
"The support I've received over the decades is simply immeasurable. I can't be certain but I think just about every album I've released internationally has been featured in some shape or form on "The Nightly Planet." I always tried to make sure copies of my releases were sent on to ABC jazz presenters but if I ever missed doing this it was a safe bet someone would contact me and request copies for airplay. I can't tell you how much that meant to me as an Aussie struggling in the trenches of NYC.
As much of an effort I made to return and tour back here I've always felt that effort was equally matched by the support I received from radio and journalists down here, none more so than the ABC. As recently as last year I experienced that support first hand after receiving a request from ABC's James Kennedy who expressed such excitement about receiving copies of "Eternal." The next message was to let me know that 'Eternal" was to be the featured album of the week. These are the kinds of events that jazz musicians from every corner of the globe dream about but rarely if ever expect to see happen.
I can't tell you in any more words how devastating it would be if programs such as 'The Nightly Planet" and Mal Stanley's "Jazz Track" were scrapped. It was devastating enough to learn of the ending of Gerry Koster's "My Favorite Things." Without the support of these outstanding programs jazz musicians such as myself would never have been able to tour back here successfully but more than that, I don't think I'd have been able to make that leap of faith and return permanently to make Australia once again my home. One of the reasons why I returned was because I knew there was support here for this great art form and for "us" as artists.
I can't imagine how this extraordinarily vital and creative art form and the equally extraordinary jazz musicians who create it will be able to survive without the strong support of ABC Radio and programs like these. After 45 years in this business I can attest to this - as jazz musicians we have to hone our skills, work on our craft on a daily basis, perhaps like no other genre but with increasingly fewer rewards.
Without radio support how will Australian jazz lovers hear what gifted artists you have down here? How will we attract audiences to jazz festivals? How will the rest of the world hear about creative music from Down Under? Please don't cut off one of a very few life support channels we have left for jazz down here. We need jazz radio more than ever. Thank you."
Dr Jon Rose (Don Banks Music Award recipient):
"The agenda is clear, to remove Radio national, and replace it with a platform filled up with anything from anyone, anywhere else. Government cuts to funding are one thing, but the self-inflicted wounds that the ABC continues to indulge in never cease to amaze. It's been going on regularly for two decades. Every few years there is a convulsion as the myopic cretins in middle and upper management destroy the very essence and raison d'être of why we have a national broadcaster in the first place.
Radio National (renamed by some hipster as RN for no proven reason) is the last bastion of intellectual food for ears that we have. And management is again whistling the inane tune of "digital platforms, digital platforms, digital platforms" as they trash as much original music production and radiophonic possibilities as they can manage in one hit. They want to remove all original content of course, but the rest must wait a few years for the chopper to fall. It would be unseemly to rush, to be so decisive and sure of themselves, it might look like they know what they are doing!
Original radio content clogs up the smooth running of the digital platforms, it requires budgets, artists, composers, producers. Like many words, "content" has become an Alice in Wonderland word – meaning just about anything that will fill up the broadcast space or digital platform. Doesn't matter where the "content" comes from, who's making it, or whether it fulfills a function for the creative community. Most important is that content in our platform world should cost nothing and should not employ anybody (least of all somebody who actually lives in Australia). Content should be easily digested, swopped, or replaced with literally any other digital pap, should not nourish any community, should not support any original work, thought or action, and should have no value which may give it an enduring shelf life and sustenance for later communities down the track. ABC content should simply fit into the post truth paradigm – creating the illusion of function by passing along any old crap made by anybody from anywhere using the latest digital platform.
So how does Radio National look in ten years time, assuming there is such a thing as say ABC Ultimo (by then probably sold off to Chinese investors as apartments or retro shopping malls in the sky)? If a bunch of Macedonian teenagers can create websites of fictional pro-Trump news that have more digital traffic than the New York Times or Fox News, why shouldn't they, why couldn't they, create (and control) the content of an automated former radio station called ABC RN in Australia? Too easy, I can hear the music already."
Hannah Gillespie (Festival Director – Majors Creek Festival):
"Although there is no set rule, Majors Creek Festival predominantly focuses on roots, folk, alt country and Americana styles of music. It is a family festival, not a JJJ youth affair. It showcases the amazing talent that is out there making independent music, largely unsupported by the ‘industry’, and it is some of the best music you will hear in this country!
As long as Radio National’s music programs are supporting these artists, they are supporting the grass roots, volunteer run festivals like ours. And festivals like ours, and the house concerts movement etc, are what’s keeping the music going round this big beautiful land.
Hands off Radio National's Music Programs!"
"The decision by ABC Radio National to axe a raft of music programs including: The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set & Rhythm Divine shows a breathtaking lack of understanding of the independent music industry in Australia. Independent musicians, independent music events, festivals and industry partnerships rely on these shows to promote their music, gain exposure and bring alternative genres of music to the Australian public.
While the above words have been freely plagiarised from Ruth Hazleton's petition letter, we urge ABC Radio National to really, deeply, consider them. To look at the bigger picture of cultural, creative Australia and know that not everything can, or should, have a price tag attached. The Australian independent music industry is one such thing. It is priceless. It should be supported and developed in every possible way. If the proposed program cuts go ahead, the ABC will be making a rather significant contribution to the "dumbing down of Australia".
We proudly stand with the other independent festivals and music events in Australia, and with the many artists, and countless listeners who wish for the continued presentation of these programs within the ABC."
James Fagan & Nancy Kerr (BBC Folk Singer of the Year 2015)
"We have received great support from Radio National over the years since James left his native Australia to form our UK-based duo. We’ve always said to people in the UK who bemoan the lack of independent and diverse music programming on the BBC that “it’s better where James comes from ” - by which we refer to ABC Radio National and programmes like “The Daily Planet”, which have done so much to support Australia’s vital music industry.
Every time we release a new CD or tour in Australia, Radio National have been there for us to let our Australian fan base know about our music and our movements. Crucially, Radio National has given vital cultural legitimacy to our music and our stories - we’ve always treasured the ABC for giving Australians this voice.
We believe that the proposed scrapping of so many vital music programmes from Radio National is a misjudgement, but more than that, it is an un-necessary erosion of one of Australia’s greatest resources - your music and the stories of the diverse and talented people who make it".
'I’m happy to support this because apart from community radio, the ABC is the only network that consistently plays my music. The purported cuts- if they go ahead - will further erode the few avenues left where independent, non-mainstream Australian music can be heard nationally and appreciated.'
Barney McAll (Grammy nominated pianist. Peggy Glanville Hicks Resident):
"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with concern for the people but with
profit and austerity measures.
And be assured ...those people responsible for these cuts (Michael Mason, Michelle Guthrie) will feel their spirit ebbing away as the wasteland approaches ... just like all the bewildered Mein Chumpf supporters...Music and the arts are CRUCIAL in these troubled times. We implore you to reconsider this insanity.
_Not all doors need to be opened. Doors with the word HELL on them for example."
"As a frequent visitor to Australia, I am horrified at this decision by ABC RN. All musicians will suffer if this goes ahead".
Paul Cassidy - Brodsky Quartet (UK)
"Deeply saddened and shocked by the news from down under. I trust I will wake tomorrow to find that this was simply an aberration. A misguided decision taken in a moment of madness. Radio National is a beacon for visiting musicians. So many fond memories. Keep that light burning brightly friends!!”